Christmas Pages

 Merry Christmas from my home to yours!


I wish you and yours a wonderful Christmas!
{Don't forget to watch for the miracles....}


Health, Happiness & Homeschooling

It's been a while since I've written about my health and I thought I'd post an update. I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis in September. Our first attempts at official treatment have helped quite a bit, especially with morning stiffness and overall ability to function. I am still in pain everyday, and still have days that my energy is compromised. I sometimes limp, due to hip problems, knee problems, or difficulty with foot pain. Sometimes I still run low-grade fevers and feel flushed and ill, but not as often as before. I still don't feel well, but am very thankful to be feeling better!

I try my best to maintain a positive attitude, choose joy, and find myself seizing opportunities more often, as there is always the possibility that my mobility may be greatly effected in the future. There's fear in that uncertainty, but I am learning to take joy in the gift of today, and not worry about tomorrow.

On vacation, laughing at the bottom of my first sledding run
Homeschooling continues and I love seeing the girls learn new things, grasp new concepts, and see Hannah's reading improve. I love seeing them dash to the kitchen table to pull out workbooks, journals, markers, crayons, scissors, tape & glue. One of the things that most excited me about homeschooling was the flexibility, more time with my girls, and the ability to emphasize a love of learning, literature and creativity, in addition to the basics of education. 

We have a lot of fun reading aloud together. (We are currently reading the Betsy, Tacy & Tib series, the All-of-a-Kind Family series, the Grandma's Attic series, and the Samantha {American Girl} books, all of which feature little girls living in early-to-mid 1900s.) 

We recently took a family vacation to the snow. We had a WONDERFUL time making snowmen, sledding, swimming and simply being together. Christmas movies, a good book, a constantly crackling fire, and hot cocoa made it even better.

My little family
Sledding with Hannah - Willing us both to remember this moment
Sweet Sisters & their snowman with the icicle nose!
Hannah's two front teeth are coming in just in time for Christmas, and we are just around the corner from her 7th birthday.
Natalie just turned 4 and we celebrated her birthday on vacation. She loves coloring and working in her preschool workbooks and LOVES bunnies.

And now, home from vacation, we are accelerating into full-steam-ahead Christmas mode. Our little family adores this time of year and all of the traditions and memory making, like pumpkin pancakes & coffee before tree-hunting, making cookies, the music & the must-see-yearly movies, taking the girls to choose inexpensive presents for each other, writing by the light of the Christmas tree, big mugs of hot cocoa with dreamy clouds of whipped cream & candy canes. The lights, the chill in the air, the wonderment.

I am learning that chronic illness can be, if I choose to let it, a great gift. It makes every day that I am able to engage in life that much more special. It adds another layer to the perspective loss has taught me: Don't take this day for granted.


The Incomparable Gift

In our family, this is a season of celebrations. It began with Thanksgiving, a beautiful time of family & friends, food and reflecting on all we count as blessings. A few days later, we celebrated one of those blessings, our younger daughter Natalie, as she turned four. In just a few weeks it will be Christmas, followed by Hannah’s birthday, which falls in mid-January. With our girls’ birthdays’ bookending Christmas, it is also a season of gift-giving.

I've been reflecting lately on the verse in Psalms that defines God as an "ever-present help in trouble." Wanting to get to the heart of this text, I turned to the dictionary to help me create this version:

"God is our [protection from danger or distress] and [capacity for endurance]. [At any time, in any way], He is a [gift] to us, always [in view or at hand] in [any state of difficulty]."

Wow! That's not a gift you can pick up at the mall. It's not something you can buy with a gift card from the relative who doesn't know you well enough. It is a gift that God is offering you. The same god who has known you since before you were put together, and who will always know the cry of your heart and what you really yearn for; the same God who gave this world a gift without equal or comparison, His son Jesus.

From the moment we hear the name of Jesus and accept the gift we are being offered, He shows up. It's just that simple. He will be there in any circumstance -- in the joy of celebration or the desolation of loss. At any time, in any way, He is a gift.
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