Friday, December 30, 2011

The Christmas Gangster

A couple years ago, Josh got really excited about Nerf guns and Transformers.

He and his uncle decided to make a Christmas Gangster movie.
(This is what happens when you are surrounded by boys at Christmas.)

Josh wrote it, his dad directed it, and his uncle edited it.

This year he decided that the Christmas Gangster should return, 
so he has been thinking about a new plot line for the past two months.

I was cast for the sequel.
I got to play an alien goddess and a Russian girlfriend.

Disclaimer: Our family does not promote violence at Christmas time
or at any other time of the year.
No gangsters were hurt in the filming of this production.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Post Christmas Edition

WIWW #19

pleated poppy

Finally managed to send out a Christmas card this year.
Here's the photo.
Don't you like "Mr. Cross Your Arms"??

Sweater & Tunic: Tommy Hilfiger outlet; Jeggings: Walmart; Necklace: Van Heusen outlet;
Belt: Forever 21; Bandalino Boots: Gift, Macy's

My dad couldn't understand why I wanted to stand in front of his weathered fence.
It's rustic... just trust me on this.  So he took the shot, despite his better judgment.

 Silk Shirt: Thrifted Calvin Klein; Necklace: Van Heusen Outlet; Slacks: ??; Shoes: Nine West

I got this necklace when I was Christmas shopping.
It was 80% off and another 30% off that... practically free.  Wohoo!
I think this outfit could have used a faux fur vest like Tamera's
but I didn't happen to have one on hand.

Christmas day we went to my folks.
We had a yummy dinner and did a Hanukkah/Christmas devotional.
Yes, we celebrate both.

Then, the return of the holiday pictures for maximum entertainment value. 
I was getting some gifts at Michaels and I came across some Christmas colored pipe cleaners.
So naturally I thought... perfect for some design your own Christmas glasses.
Just look at this creativity.

 From left to right:  Snowy Designer Cool, Engineer Elf, Christmas Tree Elf, Star of David Eyes, Candy Cane Alien, The Christmas Super Hero, and Mr. & Mrs. Claus

 Thoughtful in our glasses

 Reindeer Ears

Mele Kalikimaka

I can't tell you how much fun that was.
I almost peed my pants.

Jacket: Vans Outlet; Tunic: Thrifted; Jeggings: Walmart; 
Boots & Socks: Macy's; Necklace: Etsy

My parents got this locket necklace for me for Christmas.
I love it!  It's from Linkel Designs on Etsy.
I can't wait to put some photos of my peeps in it.

And that's it!
Did you have a good holiday season?
Any plans for New Years?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas to All...

And to all a good night!

I hope you and your families had a wonderful day.
I certainly did.

I watched this video with my family four times today.

I can't stand how cute and hilarious it is.
There is nothing like Christmas through the eyes of a child!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

His Marvelous Light

"Light of the world,
You came down into darkness,
Opened my eyes,
Let me see..."

For my birthday, my parents gave me a light scoop for my camera.  You see, I love how light is used in capturing images, but I hate flash photography.  I don't like the glare that the light casts on people.  It gives people demon red eyes and highlights people's flaws.  The idea of a light scoop is to affix a mirrored attachment to the flash.  The light then bounces off the mirror, onto the ceiling and diffuses the light, so that the photo is illuminated, but natural looking.  The harsh flash is softened and complements the person you are capturing on film.

"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." 1 Peter 2:9 

I love that Jesus came as light in our dark world... to call us out of the darkness of our sin.  And I don't think He came to shine a glaring light on us... to humiliate us, but instead to humble us and call us into His healing and holiness.  

Sometimes His light in our lives is powerful, like a bolt of lightening.  
Sometimes it shines His glory through our cracked and broken vessels.  
Sometimes it is softly reflected in His creation.  
Sometimes it illuminates in the form of truth and grace.  
Sometimes it is a sharp laser of conviction. 
Sometimes it brings healing to our wounds like the sun.  
Sometimes it purifies like a fire.

Jesus is radiant.
"In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."
John 1:4-5
This Christmas, I am exceedingly thankful for the light of Jesus.  Pushing away the darkness in my life.  Illuminating my dark corners.  Continuing to lead me into His glorious light.

I pray you know His light, friends.  That His brilliance is reflected in you in the year to come.  Like the moon reflects the sun.  That He shines through your cracks, brings healing to your wounds, and purifies your hearts.

Shine, Lord Jesus, Shine.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Candy Cane Conversation

The kids and I were driving around this afternoon, doing some errands and mailing Christmas cards.

Do you know about how the candy cane came to be, I asked.

Oh, yeah... the Legend of the Candy Cane or something, they replied.

I think the white stands for how Jesus washed our sin as white as snow, Jason eagerly interjected.

Yeah, and the red is for His blood, Josh added.

Oh, and the shape is like a "J" for Jesus.

And it's also like a shepherd's staff, 'cause we are such knuckleheads, laughed Josh.

That statement got quite a rise out of Jason.  He started to cry.

I am NOT stupid, he screeched.  I don't want to be called a knucklehead!!

Oh, honey, I explained, of course you aren't stupid!  You are very smart.  One of the names Jesus goes by is "The Good Shepherd," that's all.  We are like His sheep.  You know how sheep sometimes wander off... that's going astray.  The shepherd has to find them and guide them back with his staff so that they won't be eaten by wolves.

Hmmm... said Jason, still unconvinced.

Do you ever make a bad choice and do something you weren't supposed to do?

Well, yeah, he replied.

Then you went astray, and Jesus is the Shepherd that rescues you and helps you to make better choices.

Alright, but I still don't want to be called a knucklehead!

How about my little sheep, then.

Ya... okay.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas-ey Edition

WIWW #18

pleated poppy

Tis the Season.  
This weekend I went to a couple fun Christmas events.
Sweater & Tunic: Marshalls; Jeggings: Walmart; Socks & Boots: B'day gifts from Macy's;
Earrings: Lisa Leonard Designs

I went to a Christmas concert with my friend, Judith.  Isn't her skirt pretty?
This embroidered tunic I'm wearing keeps shrinking.
I'm bummed about that, cause it's a favorite.
It's starting to cut off the circulation in my armpit region, 
but I will wear it until my arms turn completely purple.
Won't that be a pretty sight?

Sweater: ?; Skirt: Casual Corner Outlet; Tights: Target; Shoes: Nine West Outlet

Wore this for my son's school Christmas party.
I love this skirt.  I've had it for at least 13 years.
It is soft and suede-like, and I'll wear it until I can't fit in it anymore!
This year I paired it with plum colored tights.
I wish you could see the clash... sorry about the bad lighting!
Never thought of wearing purple and red together, but I really liked it!
Do you ever mix weird colors?

Gift from my mom

And these are my Christmas socks.
I put them on, and then I raise my eyebrow and say this to the kids...
"Run, run as fast as you can,
I'm gonna catch you, 
cause I'm the Gingerbread Mom."
They squeal and run.

And when I catch them, I give them a big Christmas kiss!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Three Little Birds

Scaling the Mountain: Part 3

My Journey to Charis has been a long one.  I continue the journey, seeking to thrive in God's grace and mercy towards me... to find my strength in Him.  Along the way, I have been dealing with so many issues with my body, they can't really even be categorized as a single illness.  Adrenal insufficiency, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, allergies, leaky gut syndrome, autoimmune issues, systemic viral activity, neurological imbalances, heart inconsistencies, chronic fatigue, chronic headaches, hormonal imbalances, clinical depression and anxiety.  Try wrapping that all up into one nice, tidy little diagnosis!  I tell people I have a polyglandular autoimmune disorder, just to attempt to give it some type of neat label.

Last spring, in the midst of my greatest season of suffering, God began to send me birds.  I often spent my days in bed during those months.  It was then that I began to notice a little hummingbird outside my window.  It would vigorously flap it's little wings darting around among the delicate stalks of my lavender bush, taking it's fill of nectar before darting away as quickly as it had come.  I began to watch for it every day, and relished seeing it's beauty so close, just beyond the pane of glass.

Not too long after, I began to notice a common gray and brown sparrow at the sliding glass door at the back of the house.  He would tap on the glass with his sharp little beak, as if to ask for an invitation inside.  As I came to the door, he would cock his head to the side and watch me with his tiny, dark eyes.  Hello, I would respond, and watch him in return.  Then he would hop, hop and flutter away.

Before long, at the other end of the house, I began to notice the rapid flutter of wings and an accompanying bird cheep every time the front door was opened.  With great vocal discord, she would sit on the roof cheeping until we closed the door again.  We discovered she had built a little nest covered within the branches of a topiary we had at our front door.  She filled the nest with eggs, and was lovingly caring for them.  One day, she actually flew in the house itself.  My brother-in-law tenderly caught her and held her.  He carefully gave her to Jason and he, in turn, lifted his chubby five year old hands above his head, her wings tickling his fingers, and let her fly free.

We have never had quite such an encampment of birds surrounding our home.  I began to watch for them, and enjoy their frequent comings and goings.

One day, I was once again in bed, and I began to hear the sweet strains of a song I had not heard before.  Jason had learned it at school for a folk program.  Go sing that to your mom, Patrick urged him.  His feet came happily padding down the hallway and he announced that he had a song to sing.

Don't worry about a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right.
Singin': "Don't worry about a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right!"

Rise up this mornin',
Smiled with the risin' sun,
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin' sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true,
Sayin', "This is my message to you-ou-ou"

Singin': "Don't worry 'bout a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right."
Singin': "Don't worry (don't worry) 'bout a thing,
'Cause every little thing gonna be all right!"

Tears began to stream down my face as my baby boy sang to me in his pure, sweet voice.  I knew that simple phrase "every little thing gonna be all right" was a message straight from the Lord.  He had brought it to our doorstep the first time through Menachem's visit.  Now, He was reminding me, through the visits of all these tiny birds and my son's music, that He hadn't forgotten His promise to me.  Everything would be ok in His timing.  The darkness would not last forever.

That song has since become an anthem in our home.  My sons sing it to me to remind me that God has a plan.  My husband notices it on the radio and reminds me that Jesus is giving us a gift.

Even on my most trying days, I have the reminder that every little thing is gonna be all right.  He will make things right... perhaps different than they once were, but right according to His plan.  He cares about every little thing.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Psalm 103

the Lord, 
O my soul,
and all that is within me
bless his holy name!

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,

who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good

so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's."

The Lord keeps bringing this Psalm to my attention.  I need it.
He has done these works in the past.
I am looking for how He is accomplishing these things in the present.
I need to bless Him and not forget.

He has done great things.
He is doing great things.
He will do great things.

Because He is God.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Decking the Halls

It's starting to look festive around the house.  I was hoping to get going on Christmas decorations last week, but there was the little thing of a kidney stone to pass and getting knocked out with a nasty cold on top of it.  I was lying on the crinkly paper at the doctor's office curled up in pain, and I just had to laugh.  This has been quite a year.  But my humor is returning, and I'm very thankful for that, and for God's deliverance and healing... little by little.

Here's our little advent calendar.  I think it's my favorite and the boys', too.
I bought the wooden calendar at Target about 3 years ago.  The mini tree is from Michaels.
I also found sets of tiny wooden ornaments (nativity & toys) at Michaels, and we put one behind each door.
In the past I have put little activity slips behind many of the doors and verses.
This year we are trying something different.

I found a Jesse Tree advent booklet on Ann Voskamp's site.  
I subscribed to her blog and they sent me a link for a free download.  
Each day has a scripture to read, a devotional, and a simple activity you can choose to do. 
We are having to catch up, since it actually starts in November, but we are loving it.  
It's definitely not too late to start... just double up or skip a couple days.
  The booklet is pretty big, and I'm thinking of having it bound at Office Max so that we can use it every year.

We aren't doing an actual Jesse tree with the devotional, 
(although Ann has ornament print outs that correspond with the devotionals)
Here's our big tree!
(It's fake... can you tell?)
The boys love putting it up and say cute things like... "Oh, the memories."

And here are some of my favorite ornaments.

 I think my friend, Shelly gave me all three of these and I adore them!
I have looked for other beaded ornaments like the horse, but never come across any... where does one get these?
The ball shows Bethlehem and has been painted from inside... such a pretty scene.
And I love the caroler, because I love singing... especially beautiful choir music that glorifies God.

This year my friend Rachel gave me this ornament for my birthday.
I HEART snowflakes!!

I've had the little clothespin since preschool... my mom may have made it.  Isn't she cute?
Charlie Brown came along in elementary school... I love "A Charlie Brown Christmas," don't you?
And the Christmas robot has recently joined the family.  I don't know why but I really dig him.

I really adore these kinds of ornaments... the kids faces and stuff they've made out of popsicle sticks.
Jason is seen here surround by his favorite color... orange!!
And this is a preschool Josh, wearing his little AWANA Cubbies vest.

Some years I do a lot of wintery creams and whites, but this year there's lots of reds and greens.
If I confess this, don't hate me, but I don't like "The Nutcracker."
Nutcrackers, yes... the ballet, no.  Aren't I just a Scrooge??

We have a couple simple nativities, but this is my favorite.
This was given to Patrick and I as a wedding gift from my brother-in-law's grandmother.
She was such a very special lady who loved God with all her heart.
Isn't this a precious gift?

My mom has given us some special Christmas books over the years.
Have you read "The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey" and "A Cup of Christmas Tea" yet?
They are my favorites!  And I cry ever single time I read them... just such sweet stories.
Sometimes we even do a little tea party with hot cocoa and the boys' Webkinz animals as we read.
Do you have any favorite Christmas stories?
Have you seen what Sara over at Simply Sara has done with her Christmas books?  So cute!

Apparently people are starting new "Elf on a Shelf" traditions.
I'm not sure what this is, but I did get out my vintage elves that my mom handed down...
just in case we want to get involved.
I know for sure we'll be watching the movie "Elf"... it's a favorite!
And I'm going to buy the DVD edition of "Little Women," (the Winona Ryder version)
cause my VHS is wearing out.
A few years back, I asked what everyone's favorite Christmas movie was.
I also asked everyone if "Little Women" counts as a Christmas movie, and everyone said it did.
So it's my favorite... what's yours?

Lastly, I need to switch out my fall wreath for a wintery one.
I'm trying to ignore the fact that one son is on the roof and the other has no shirt.
I guess that is how the manly people decorate.

Do you have any special traditions you are looking forward to?
What's going on over at your place this December?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Kryptonite People

I grew up watching the Superman series with Christopher (Can You Read My Mind?) Reeves.  By the time I got married, the Lois and Clark series was in its first season, and Patrick and I became avid watchers.  It was our show.  There was even a group of fans as devoted as we were called FOLC 's... Friends of Lois and Clark.  I'll bet you didn't know such nerdom existed, did you?

Anyhow, because of all this Superman background, I have a very good knowledge of Kryptonite.  It's that glowing green (well, sometimes red and other colors... sorry, nerd alert)  element... the radioactive remains of Superman's home planet, Krypton.  If you've seen Superman around this element, you know that it does not affect him well at all.  Suddenly, his super powers are zapped away, he grabs his head in pain, and dissolves into a heap on the floor.  The essence and strength of who he is disappears and you feel so sorry for him.  Then the bad guys take over and start plotting and executing their evil plans.

I don't know about you, but over the years, I've struggled with Kryptonite people in my own life.  Not that these people are evil villians with maniacal plots per se, but when I am around them, I am not at all myself.  Or I become the worst version of myself imaginable.  For some reason they push my buttons and weaken my resolve.  I can't think straight, I become irritated, and I say things I don't mean (or maybe I meant them, but shouldn't have said them).  I go into the bathroom and take an Advil and comb down the hair standing up on my neck.  I look in the mirror and say to myself, "Linda, you can do this."  And then I walk out with my legs feeling like Jell-0. 

Do you have any of these Kryptonite people in your life?  Sometimes they show up specifically at holidays.  When everyone else is laughing and smiling and having a Norman Rockwell celebration, you are in a proverbial heap in the corner.

Just like Superman insulates himself against the powers of Kryptonite with some type of lead box, I sometimes have had to think about insulating myself spiritually as well.  I don't want this Kryptonite effect to be an area were the enemy gets in and starts to put a wedge in my heart.

First, I ask God to deal with my own heart.  What fears, insecurities, bitterness, anger, or unforgiveness may be festering there?  I want to be clean.  I want to confess what may be darkening my heart and let God's light shine instead.

Search me, O God, and know my heart!
    Try me and know my thoughts!
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
   and lead me in the way everlasting!
Psalm 139:23-24

Next, I think about putting on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:11-17) because I know I'm going into a spiritual battle.  

Put on the whole armor of God, 
that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
Ephesians 6:11

Then I pray through Romans 12:9-21.  I want love to come from Him and I want it to be genuine.  I want to see others through His eyes, instead of my own.  I want Him to be strong in the weakness I feel. 

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; 
hold fast to what is good. 
Love one another with brotherly affection. 
Outdo one another in showing honor.
Romans 12:9-10 

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
Romans 12:18

I also remind myself that as much as I want to be at peace with everyone, it all doesn't depend on me.  Maybe that Kryptonite person doesn't just push my buttons, but has really brought out the red variety... they have truly sinned against me in some way.   It is up to me to forgive that person.  It is up to me to let go of bitterness or resentment toward them.  

But... there is always the other side that I have no control over.  Maybe they just keep offering more Kryptonite instead of a desire for peace and reconciliation.  Forgiveness I can choose to do, but reconciliation is a two-sided proposition.  Reconciliation requires repentance, truth and grace, and both sides choosing to live peaceably with one another.

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God 
by the death of his Son, 
much more, now that we are reconciled, 
shall we be saved by his life. 
More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 
through whom we have now received reconciliation. 
Romans 5:10-11

Jesus offered us, His own Kryptonite people, forgiveness for our sins through His birth and sacrifice of His life on the cross.  We, however, have to confess our sins, receive His forgiveness, and reconcile our lives to Him.  That is the only way we have a true, peaceable, loving relationship with our Creator and Savior. 

And that is the only way we can have a relationship with a red Kryptonite person as well.  Both parties have to let Jesus come in and lock it all up in a lead box for true relationship to be restored.  That takes some doing... and I'd venture to say, even some testing, to make sure that person has truly given up all their Kryptonite and it's safe to be so close to them.  Sometimes that even takes time apart, just like Joseph tested the brothers who sold him into slavery and told his father he was dead.  He kept his distance and tested those brothers to see if their hearts had really changed.  True reconciliation isn't just forgetting the past, but it is true repentance and forgiveness on each side that stands the test of time. Then Jesus' love can truly be that lead box, covering over the multitude of sins and letting His glory shine.

Do you have any green or red Kryptonite people in your life?
How do you handle those situations?
What are your thoughts on these things?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Are You a Scarf Person?

WIWW #17

pleated poppy

Jacket: Thrifted; Scarf: a street vendor; Top: Marshalls; Jeans: Walmart; Boots: Birthday gift

I'm starting to pull out the scarves.
Most of the time it's not really cold enough to wear scarves in California,
but I just pretend I'm in Boston, because I like them.

Have you seen the scarf video yet?
If you have ever wondered how to tie a scarf in a different way,
wonder no more!

Top: Marshalls; Tank: Nordstrom Rack; Jeans: Thrifted Tommy Hilfiger; Wedges: Clarks

Just when I think I can wear more scarves, it gets hot and I'm pulling out sandals again.
Sorry... I know I need to quit complaining!
I don't have to shovel snow... I am very grateful for that!!

Dress: Ross; Tights: Target; Same boots: Bandolino

This one is for Susan.  She read my last post and told me to post this outfit for WIWW.
So I found a pic I had with my parents.   
Aren't they cute?
They have been married for 57 years.
They live 8 houses up the street from me.
A lot of people think that is crazy.
I think it is awesome!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Photo Op

 Do you have any holiday traditions?

We have this photo op thing that we do.

It always starts out pretty normally...

By the end, we may as well be on some ride at Disneyland.

It's pretty fun.

There's always some type of jumping involved.

My brother-in-law had to work, but he drove up unexpectedly after a 5 hour plane flight.

When he got here, he didn't ask about the turkey... 
he wanted to know if we already did the photos.
They are that much of a tradition.

We ended up taking photos with him the next day.

We're all giving him the thumbs up, cause he was in The Muppets.
It was the first time he wasn't a terrorist or a murder victim, so the kids got to go.
The movie was hilarious... we laughed ourselves silly.
Alvin is in the anger management scene, and you can see him in back of Jack Black
for all of about 3.7 seconds before the fight breaks out.

When we got back, he said I should take his new-to-him car on a "love cruise" with Patrick.
You are actually going to allow me to drive this? I asked.
He apparently hasn't read about my tendency to do donuts in vacant lots.

But who was I to argue with his wishes.
Ummm... this car has serious power.  
Could go 80 mph with just a slight tap on the gas pedal kind of power.
(Not that I did or anything.)
It was exhilarating!! 
Nothing against my sweet van, but I think I might need one of these, someday!
I think a Mustang would go really well with my ballet flats, don't you? 
It's a total mom car, right?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Pilgrim Josh and his friend Carissa

Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; 

let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!

Psalm 95:2

I hope you and your friends and loved ones have a wonderful week!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fabulous Forty

WIWW # 16

pleated poppy

The Birthday Edition

Today is my birthday.  The BIG 4-0.  I've lived 4 decades.
I've reached fabulous forty!

Tunic: Ross; Belt: F21; Jeggings: Walmart; Shoes: Naturalizers

I stopped dying my hair last year.
Now I have my very own unplanned ombre treatment and I'm starting to sport a nice little streak of gray.
I earned every bit of my gray.

I might try and get a big enough streak going so  I can be like Stacy London.
She seems to be very comfortable with her gray.
I am 40 now... I can be comfortable, too.
Or I might go buy another box of color... I haven't decided yet.
But I can do what I want though, because I'm forty.

Pintuck Shirt: Kmart; Scarf: gift; Belt: Goodwill; Same Jeggings; Socks & Boots: Macy's

I now introduce you to the birthday boots.
Patrick asked me what I wanted for my fortieth.  If you could have anything, he said.
What I wanted was a healthy, healed mind and body... but the stores were fresh out.

So I opted for some sweet boots and knee socks..
These babies are leather, they are so comfy, and I want to wear them even when I sleep.
I wore them for the first time when I went with a November birthday bestie to see Wynonna on Sunday.
I felt sassy in my boots.
Wy actually mentioned that when you turn forty you get kinda sassy.
It's true.
I am way more sassy than when I was in my thirties.
The sass is literally oozing out of my boots as I write.

Shirt: Vintage thrifted; Skirt: Gap thrifted; Belt: Thrifted; Boots & Socks: Macy's

And this, my friends is my tribute to the year of my birth... 
Good old 1971
I feel oddly comfortable in this get up.
The 1970's school teacher look.
I don't know what people think of my big old collar, but I'm feeling groovy.

Groovy AND sassy.
Yes, the forties are going to be fabulous.

I tried to see if I could think of 40 things I've learned at forty.
If you'd like to read some midlife wisdom... here you go.

40 Things I've Learned at Forty

It's very serious and sage-like.
Kind of like Yoda or Gandalf, but in a 40-year-old woman way.
I wore a long, hooded tunic when I wrote it...
no I didn't, I wore pajamas.
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