I Got a Robe

I got a robe for Christmas.

If you watch SNL, you will laugh at that. They did a parody video a few years back about how everyone else in the family gets all these awesome gifts, and the mom gets a robe. Why? Because most of the time moms are the one that do the majority of the shopping and cooking and planning for the holidays!

But the funny thing was that I actually DID ask for a robe. My husband bought me a robe for Christmas the first year we were dating. It was a super plush, red, terrycloth robe from Victorias Secret. That thing was indestructible! Can you believe that I have worn this robe for… drum roll….. 27 years?! That is just insane. Mainly because I can’t possibly be that old.

But anyway, I figured after 27 years, it was time to retire the robe for a new one.

But really, the best gift was not under the tree. (and I know, I know… the best gift is Jesus)

But the OTHER best gift (besides Jesus) was spending time with my family. We got to see *almost* our entire family this year and it was great! And then after Christmas, my hubby and the girls and I always go out to have brunch and then the girls and I go shopping. I never knew how much joy it would bring me to spend time having fun with my girls as they have gotten older. As they have gotten older, we are able to enjoy each other’s company, laugh together, shop together, and our shopping excursions would not be complete without a Starbucks coffee run!

The greatest gift for me isn’t the presents. It’s ALL about being in the presence of the people I love.

I am thankful.

In your presence there is fullness of joy- Psalm 16:11

good things come…

Isn’t it funny how some days don’t seem to start off on the right foot…and then by the end of the day, you look back and see how it was one of the very best days?

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The gorgeous moon at the end of my day! 

I woke up one day with a feeling of dread.  There were several things I had to do, and some days “adulting” is hard work, lol!  But there is an undeniable feeling like I’ve conquered the world when those tasks are accomplished!  I set aside my “feelings” and got right to getting my business done.

Around lunchtime that day, I stopped in to see someone who was in the hospital.  After the visit, I meandered through the lobby and heard the sounds of Christmas Carols being played on the grand piano.  I decided to sit for a few minutes to take in the music.  So often I am the one playing the piano- and it was so nice to be on the other end and to be able to appreciate this lady’s musical gift.  After a few songs,  the Lord prompted me to go into the cafe to get a cup of coffee.  It was a little strange for me to do- since I had JUST had a cup, but I got up and got into the line.  An older gentleman was ahead of me in the line, and he turned around to me and said this-

“I’ve been here a looooong time… and I want to warn you- this lady isn’t very fast.”  He smiled as he said it- so I could tell he wasn’t in a big hurry.

I said to him- “What’s that saying- good things come to those who wait?  Hopefully whatever we’re getting will be worth the wait!”

He asked me if I worked at the hospital, and I told him no- that I was visiting someone.  I told him I was a pastor and shared with him the various things I do at my church.  He then said he was here with his wife, who had lots of health issues. They used to go to church but recently stopped attending.  We had the nicest conversation and like that- the line had dwindled and he made his purchase.

I paid for my cup of coffee and saw the gentleman sitting with his wife just outside of the coffee shop.  I walked over to them and I introduced myself to his beautiful wife.  You would have never known she was sick.  She was stunning- I would even say she was glowing that day.

“Would you mind if I prayed for you?”  I asked the lady.

“I would love that.”

I knelt down and put my arms around them both and prayed.  I watched them reach for each others hands.  They were holding their hands so tightly together that I could see them shaking.

It was such a beautiful moment.

The carols being played on the piano across the room… people passing by… couples sitting in the cafe…

and you know who else was present?

Jesus.

Good things will always come when we walk with Jesus.

He Himself IS GOOD and He is always up to something good around us-

if we will keep our eyes open!

For the Lord your God is living among you.
    He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
    With his love, he will calm all your fears.
    He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.- Zephaniah 3:17 

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rainy days and Mondays always get me up!

I’m a little weird, I guess.

Because I absolutely LOVE rainy days… and Mondays, too!

Mondays are my favorites because I am usually at home alone- which means I can get so much done!  The rest of the week is go-go for all of us.  Between work, school, church, teaching music lessons, running the girls here and there, doing errands…the weeks sometimes feel like a rat race! And for me, the the weekends are spent preparing for Sunday’s church service.   I end up putting off a lot of things I need to do until Monday, because I know that will be a quiet day when I can get a TON done, because I’m usually home alone.  Monday is my “home base” day-  and, did I mention- I love Mondays?!

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And when it rains, too?  Well that’s just an extra blessing for me.  I have always loved rainy days!  I think it’s so strange how people dislike the rain.  There’s something so real about it- it’s not like we melt in the rain!  Sure- it might make your hair a little flat,  and it might make you change your plans to stay inside- but sometimes that’s a good thing!

When I feel the rain on my skin, it makes me feel alive!

It makes my car all shiny again! (who needs a carwash when you get a good rain shower?!)

The rain reminds me that I have showers of blessings to be thankful for.

Oh- and it reminds me that I really need to go water that poinsettia my husband brought home from work the other day 🙂

“You heavens above, rain down my righteousness;
    let the clouds shower it down.
Let the earth open wide,
    let salvation spring up,
let righteousness flourish with it;
    I, the Lord, have created it.  Isaiah 45:8-10 

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Home

the place where I can wear 

my hair 

up in a messy bun 

the place where doggies blissfully 

 “happy dance” under the sun 

the place where I can look around 

and see love in a frame

family pictures scattered ’round

showing just how far we came 

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I sort of feel like Dorthy in Oz- “there’s no place like home!”   I have a always been a “homebody” and enjoy having the house to myself.  I can play piano, sing at the top of my lungs… snuggle with my dogs (and pet my daughter’s bunny- but don’t tell her!).  But I’ll say this- being a “homemaker” is not something that comes natural to me.  I don’t really have an eye for decorating, I’ve never been fond of cooking (except for baking- I LOVE making desserts!), and anyone who knows me well will tell you my home is “lived in”.

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But today I am finding joy in making my house a “home”.  I am praising the Lord that I have this day to sweep up all the pine needles and the little bits of trash on our hardwood floors, and for a new steam mop that makes those floors shine!  I’m praising the Lord for a brand new dishwasher- one that’s quiet and cleans and dries all my dishes to perfection!

And I’m praising the Lord for my two doggies- who always follow me and lay at my feet- no matter where I am in the house!

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And I’m praising the Lord for my two daughters who will be home soon and will help me put up our Christmas tree today!

“It’s been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.”- Anne of Green Gables 

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As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord-  Joshua 24:15

make the time

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on a weathered

bench I play 

minutes…hours…

half a day!

How I wish 

to pause the time 

play the day away 

on this piano of mine!

Every year when the Christmas season is over, I always wish I had spent more time playing through my favorite Christmas piano books.

Not this year!

I am determined to set aside time daily to play my favorite carols.

There is something special about sitting down with a good piano book, lit by Christmas lights, and just letting my hands dance across the keys.  It’s like meeting an old friend for coffee and a little conversation.  The piano books come to life as I read and play and reminisce about all the years I practiced and learned to play these old songs.

The first Christmas carol I ever learned to play was God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.  It was from a Muppet Christmas book with Kermit the Frog on the front of it.  I played and played that song so many times that I thought I’d never want to hear it again.  And yet, even now, when I play it- it’s like a home movie running through my mind.  I remember what the keys felt like on my old piano and I can see the dimly lit dining room where I sat as a young girl.

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I’ve still got my first Christmas piano book!

When I sit at the piano and play, I feel like a kid at Christmas again.

So, what’s that one thing that is sure to get you in the Christmas spirit? 

Whatever it is- make time for it this year-

and DO IT!

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“Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music.” – Sergei Rachmaninov 

“Music is the shorthand of emotion.” ― Leo Tolstoy

“Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.” ― Maya Angelou

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” ― Aldous Huxley

“Where words fail, music speaks.” ― Hans Christian Andersen

“A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between.”  ― Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

“Music is like a dream. One that I cannot hear.” – Ludwig Van Beethoven

Be Born In Me

This has become one of my favorite Christmas songs.  Written from Mary’s perspective, it so beautifully captures the range of emotions she felt when realizing she was carrying the Son of God.

One of my favorite lines is this –

“I am not brave, I’ll never be- the only thing my heart can offer is a vacancy.  I’m just a girl, nothing more,  but I am willing- I am Yours…” 

May we all make room in our hearts for Him.   Be Born in me.

Be Born in Me (Mary’s Song)

Everything inside me cries for order
Everything inside me wants to hide
Is this shadow an angel or a warrior
If God is pleased with me, why I am I so terrified
Someone tell me I am only dreaming
Somehow help me see with Heaven’s eyes
And before my head agrees, my heart is on it’s knees
Holy is He. Blessed am I.

Be born in me, be born in me
Trembling heart, somehow I believe that You chose me
I’ll hold you in the beginning, You will hold me in the end
Every moment in the middle, make my heart your Bethlehem
Be born in me

All this time we’ve waited for the promise
All this time You’ve waited for my arms
Did You wrap yourself inside the unexpected
So we might know that Love would go that far?

I am not brave
I’ll never be
The only thing my heart can offer is a vacancy
I’m just a girl
Nothing more
But I am willing, I am Yours

*written by Nichole Nordeman

*originally sung by Francesca Battestelli  

The Holly and The Ivy

“The Holly and the Ivy”
The holly and the ivy,
When they are both full grown
Of all the trees that are in the wood
The holly bears the crown 
The holly bears a blossom
As white as lily flower
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To be our sweet Saviour
From the rising of the sun
Unto the going down of the same
The Lord’s name is to be praised 
The holly bears a berry
As red as any blood
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
To do poor sinners good
The holly bears a prickle
As sharp as any thorn;
And Mary bore sweet Jesus Christ
On Christmas Day in the morn.
From the rising of the sun
Unto the going down of the same 
The Lord’s name is to be praised
I have always loved this old Christmas carol!  The beautiful sing-song melody, combined with the lyric’s rich symbolism have always intrigued me.  I added a chorus to it and changed up the accompaniment. 
Hope you enjoy- 
and Merry Christmas!
From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD’S name is to be praised. 
Psalm 113:3

Christmas Dishes

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I was feeling a little melancholy the other day as I was fixing a day-after Thanksgiving meal for the 4 of us.  Now that the girls are getting older, holidays just feel different.   I miss the girls being little and wanting to spend time with me.   I miss the excitement of Santa and long toy lists and just the sheer giddiness that exudes from children this time of year.

As I was cooking dinner, my oldest came out of “hiding” (she spends lots of time in her room now) and she asked me about what sorts of traditions I did with my family as a kid.

Did you have lots of Christmas decorations when you were little?

I remembered the glass candle globes with holly berries around them that we placed on our coffee table and dining room table.  And we always hung mistletoe in the hallway.  And there were these Christmas dishes…

Wait a minute- you had Christmas dishes?  For some reason, that piqued her interest.

Actually, I have them somewhere in the garage packed away. 

And like that, my oldest daughter was a giddy child on a mission to find them.

I went to the garage with her, and we dug through several bins looking for them.  Lo and behold- we found the magic tub filled with the Christmas dishes.

“I can’t believe you never told us about these!”

I helped her bring the tub upstairs, and then I watched as she took out every piece and neatly stacked it on the kitchen counter.  She snapped a picture of the dishes to send to her friend. “It doesn’t take much to make me excited!” She grinned from ear to ear as she sent her friend a text with the picture of the treasure she found in the garage.

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Why have we never used these?!”  she asked me.

“I didn’t want to take the chance of breaking them when you girls were younger.”  And that was the honest truth.  I remember my aunt got us those dishes for Christmas when I was really young, and they were special to me.

I told her if she wanted us to use the dishes then she needed to hand wash all of them.  She happily obliged, and then she set the table for our day-after-Thanksgiving meal with our fancy Christmas dishes.

And as we ate together as a family that evening, I was filled with joy.  Something as simple as eating on a plate with a Christmas tree used to make me so excited as a kid!  Knowing that those same dishes brought the same joy to my daughter’s face that day overwhelmed my heart with gladness.

And just like that- something old that had been packed away years ago became new again…and a new family tradition has begun!

    Old things have disappeared, and look! all things have become new!            

     2 Corinthians 5:17

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You, Lord, are my lamp

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The greatest present given to me 

was not found beneath a tree 

a much more precious gift, you see- 

one that brought back memories 

In Granny’s garage, to my delight

nestled atop a fridge that night

I found an old, old antique light 

and it was precious to my sight! 

This was our first Christmas without Granny.  My aunt lives in Granny’s house, but it will forever be “Granny’s house” to me.  Even though she isn’t there, memories of her are everywhere.

We had Christmas dinner at “Granny’s house”, and I couldn’t help but wonder- were we going to talk about Granny at all?  I figured everyone else was thinking about her and missing her, too.  One of my aunts gave my mom a beautifully framed picture of Granny.  When I saw it, it was as if Granny was sitting in that same recliner in the next room.

One of my aunts asked my sister and I if we wanted to go into the garage to look through some of Granny’s things that they were getting rid of.  We walked out into the garage, and sifted through a few boxes of odds and ends.  I saw a couple of oil lamps in one box, which reminded me of my favorite lamp that used to rest on the dresser in the back bedroom.  This is where my sister and I slept when we spent the nights at Granny and Papa’s house.

As a kid, I was afraid of the dark. One of my earliest memories is of me being in a crib.  I can picture myself looking through the crib slats, watching the lights go out and then watching the door to my room close.  I would cry because I was afraid of the dark.  I can remember always being afraid of the dark- especially when I slept in a different place.

But not at Granny’s house! 

On those special overnight trips to Granny’s, I couldn’t wait to see that special lamp light up the room when I went to sleep!  It had a beautiful gold hued glass globe around the top, and the black base had cut-outs of stars, which glowed when it was turned on.

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That lamp made me look forward to sleeping over at Granny’s house.  It shined light in the darkness and somehow made my Granny’s house seem magical!

As I remembered that old lamp, I looked across the garage to where the old fridge sat. There it was, clear as day- resting right on top. I didn’t even know that lamp still existed!  I asked my aunt if I could have it, and after she checked to see if it was ok- she said it was fine for me to have it.

I couldn’t wait to get the lamp home and clean it up!  I washed the hurricane glass and the globe, and then found a bulb to put inside.  The off/on switch was broken, but as soon as I plugged it in, it came right on!

And just like flipping that “on” switch, then came back all the memories of being a kid at Granny’s house.  Granny may be gone, but her light shines on…

You, Lord, are my lamp;
    the Lord turns my darkness into light.  2 Samuel 22:29

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the people that walked in darkness have seen a great light

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And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.  

John 1:5

We wanted to do something as a “family” this past weekend- just the four of us. I admit, I wanted to do the “mom” thing and go see some holiday lights- while the rest of the family wanted to go to the movies.

So imagine how happy I was when they decided to do what I wanted to do!

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You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.

  Matthew 5:14

We went to see the Holiday Lights at the Richmond Botanical Gardens and it was truly magical! We had such a wonderful time laughing, posing for pictures, and just being together.  We held hands, skipped down the walkways, and took in the beautiful lights all around us!

It was good to feel like a giddy kid again, and to be making memories with the ones I love the most!

And it made even more special to know that they wanted to go because they knew it would bring me much joy!

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Then Jesus said to them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness come on you: for he that walks in darkness knows not where he goes.  John 12:35

As we walked, the darker the night sky got- the more brilliantly the lights did shine!

May the beautiful sights and holiday lights of this season remind you of the greatest gift of all-

the Light of the World- Jesus!

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  

Isaiah 9:6

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I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.  

John 8:12

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But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light 

1 Peter 2:9

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Why he said, Awake you that sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.  

Ephesians 5:14

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Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.

Psalm 119:105

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When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought me joy.

 Psalm 94:19

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I am the light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.  

John 8:12

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 Merry Christmas!