Friday, December 24, 2010

I am home and I am happy. I am so very blessed, it's a marvel to me each and every day that I wake up. There has been lots of Christmas shopping, baking, and general merry making going on around here! It's been wonderful.

One of my best friends from childhood is having a baby...due yesterday. We are really praying that this little boy decides to show up very, very soon. Like today. Not tomorrow though...maybe the day after Christmas. It's hard to believe, I don't feel old enough for her to be having a baby;-) So, in her 9 month pregnant state, sleep is not really coming all that easy. This is a perfect recipe for hilarity to the form of baking...a lot of baking....till like 3 in the morning. Oh, yes, yes we did. She found this "really good recipe for chocolate no bake oatmeal cookies" that she just had to make. And thumb print cookies and chocolate dipped pretzels and sugar cookies and peppermint cheese cake bars. Oh, did I mention that we didn't start until 9 at night? And I made dinner for her and her mom and dad somewhere in the midst of all this baking and general chaotic goings on? I did. Boy, it was fun! I thrive in situations like that:-) Comes with growing up in a chaotic, loud, house where there were always about 50 things going on at once.

So, there we are, she's bumping into all the cabinets with her big tummy and I'm trying not to bump into her and baby and we are laughing so hard that we can hardly breath. Like the belly laughter that only comes at 1 in the morning, when every single thing you do is absolutely hilarious! Plus, nothing in any of the first few batches of cookies would go right. I mean, the oddest, most bizarre things were happening....and I thought baking at high altitude was hard. Well, this shouldn't have been difficult, but it was the nature of the night...and us...and the time. Yes. Then, baby wakes up and decides to do somersaults and flips in the middle of all the calamity happening in the kitchen. Looked like she had an alien in her belly. Ha! It really wasn't funny...well, yes it was.

And those chocolate oatmeal cookies. All I have to say about them is that I'm pretty sure you could've used them as hockey pucks. Seriously. Her dad almost broke a tooth on them and promptly said, in a very sweet and serious voice, "Um, honey? I don't think these are going to should definitely give them away as Christmas gifts." Ha! She was highly disappointed in how they turned out, partly because I think she started craving them as she was making them:-D That would be a disappointment. Everything else turned out after the second or third batch, however. Saddest part? Most of them were pre-made, you know, the kind you can buy and just stick in the oven. Yeah. And I bake almost everyday from scratch at home!!! I don't know what was wrong with me. I'm blaming it on the very "large" time change;-)

Ah, but now it's Christmas Eve day and it's beautiful here in sunny South Carolina. Tomorrow is Christmas and it's hard to believe it came so quickly. I am not thinking about the gifts or even Christmas itself, however, but Jesus. Jesus who is so faithful and wonderful and who never leaves me. Who wipes away my every tear, who whispers, " My love, I've never and will never leave your side. I have loved you all your life. You are not alone for I am here." This is what I'm thinking about, what I'm hearing Him say to me today. And once again, I will never be the same, for it's the sweetest voice that calls to me.

This is what I'm thinking about on this day before Christmas. That even though it is not technically Jesus' birthday tomorrow, what a gift He was and is to me today and every day I draw breath. I could not live without knowing Him...or, I suppose I could, but it could not compare with this life of loving and being loved by Him. I am humbled and amazed when I truly begin to think about what a merciful, loving God we have, who gave His only son to you. I don't care when His birthday actually was, I want to drop to my face before my God and cry out, "Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am not worthy, so thank you!" This is the gift I never have nor never will deserve, no matter when He was really born. That is trivial next to knowing and having a relationship with Him. Today, I am convicted to press into my Jesus all the more, because He was given to me by my Father who loved Him more than life itself...and loved me enough to freely send His precious Son as a baby. A baby who would grow to be the man who would hang on that cross for me.

Father, thank you for Jesus, though I'll never do anything to deserve Him. Thank you for His blood that covers me and makes a way for me to know the fulness of who You are. Thank you for the gift He was and is every single day. Thank you for life itself and for the chance to live it with You to the fullest extent. May I never, never forget or let what You did for me grow dim. Let it blaze before my eyes like the star that the wise men followed so long ago...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

chest colds, soup, and gingerbread men.

I have a dreadful chest cold. You know, the kind that makes you honk like a goose when you cough...or at least that's what happens to me. The kind that makes you want to curl up in a ball and shut the world out for days on end with some nice chicken noodle soup. Maybe watch some old Doris Day movies with that soup. Ugh. Unfortunately, life will let me do no such thing and so trudging on I go in my foggy state. Thankfully, I adore everything I do, otherwise I'd be pretty miserable right now.

I feel like there's a band wrapped around my chest. I know what I need, but I won't get any till Saturday when I go home. I need some Avgolemono soup.

That's quite a name isn't it? I mean, with a name like that, it should cure everything! And it does. It's the Greek "cure all" for basically any ailment that may have come upon you. My step mom is greek and this is a traditional greek soup made out of rice, chicken broth, lemon, and eggs. It is the most delicious soup to ever slide over anyone's tongue and I live off of it when I'm home sick and she's there to make it for me. Knocks chicken noodle soup totally out of the water! So, the goal is to not die (because chest colds are so deadly) before I can make it home to consume mass amounts of Avgolemono soup on Saturday.

Alright, today I tried to bake gingerbread men...again...frustration. As much as I like to bake, gingerbread men and I do not get along. They are constantly trying to run away from me...or I'm decapitating them...or they have limbs falling off here and there. Dreadful. The kitchen began to look like a gingerbread war zone after a few hours of trying to figure out how to get them to not fall apart at this altitude, even though I was using a "high altitude" recipe that came "highly recommended" on the internet. You just can't believe anything on the internet nowadays;-).

I eventually had somewhat of a successful batch. Well, their arms were a bit fat and sort of ran into their necks...but hey, you could at least tell what they were...and there were no arms, legs, or heads left lying about when all was said and done. Nor were there any headless cookies to speak of. Whew.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

tea roses. suitcases. baking.

So, here's the truth, I love tea roses. A lot. I have a whole bunch of them sitting on my little english desk and I'm drinking the sight of them in as I type this. Here's another truth, I have to pack for a three week trip and I am procrastinating. Big time. I always procrastinate packing really badly;-) And so, instead of packing like I should be, I shall blog because this is oh so much more productive. Ah, well at least I'm honest about the situation.

Speaking of packing, which of course leads one to think about suitcases, I love old vintage suitcases/bags/trunks. If I could collect them with any kind of good reason, I would. However, I can think of no logical reason (not that everything in life has to be logical...most of the time I'm not such a huge fan of logic) to collect such a thing. I might be able to think of why I should collect vintage bags, such as actually having the space to keep them. Can you imagine me trying to store old trunks and suitcases in my little space?! Bahaha! Maybe I could stack them all together, get rid of my bed, and put the mattress on top of them...would that be reasonable? A "trunk" bed. Might actually work...

I'm headed home for three weeks on Saturday. Haven't been back to good old S.C. in far too long, but I'm going to miss "here" very much. It says a lot about where you live and what you do, when you're torn in going on vacation. I am blessed...obviously. Mostly it's the people though. I am amazed at the incredible, amazing people God has given me to work and live with. Says a lot about a group of people when they can all live together, spend ginormous amounts of time with each other, and at the end of the day, not want to leave each other. Beautiful!

What's better than slice of delicious homemade bread? Homemade peanut butter with raw honey on the homemade bread! Oh-my-word! Can you say yummy?! I love to bake bread, however, I have had a very love/hate relationship with my efforts lately. Living at a very high altitude, baking becomes a whole other entity. I mean, how do you get bread to rise and cornbread to not fall apart here? Well, if there's any interest, I'll blog about some of my secrets;-) I have conquered the art of baking the perfect loaf of bread at this altitude, after months and months of failing. Success! I was truly beginning to sympathize with Anne and all of her cooking escapades.

Now, I'm off to try and figure out the perfect gingerbread cookie for a special little man's Christmas party. It's a wonder we're not all in a cookie coma after all the cookies I've been baking the last couple weeks. However, for those moms out there who are appalled at the thought of their children consuming mass quantites of sugar this festive season, I only have one word for you...xylitol! It's a natural sweetener that comes from some fruits and veggies, measures cup for cup like sugar AND here's the best part, it actually helps fight cavities! Oh, yes, you heard me right, cookies, candy, cake, and whatever other sweet creation you come up with that actually help your kiddos. This is something to rejoice over! Happy baking everyone:-)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

I have but one thought. Oh, the deep, deep love of Jesus! Let me never forget the precious, wonderful, amazing knowledge that no matter how unfaithful I am, He is interceding for me before the throne. This is all I need, the only thing I should put my trust in, being confident that He is watching over me, for He died to make me His own. There is a love so powerful, so fulfilling, so all encompassing that to know it is to live. It is His love, this man that is God, this man of joy, and of sorrow. May I never forget, may this knowledge wash over me afresh each and every morning. "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, wonderful merciful Savior, blessed redeemer and friend, who would have thought that a lamb could rescue the souls of men?" Ah, but the lamb wore the face of a lion, the mighty lion of Judah, and He ripped apart the plans the enemy had laid for you and for me. He clearly provided a way for the simple, beautiful reason that He loves us.

What a God, what a Savior. What joy there is in the giving up of all the world esteems, and following after all He would call me to. This surpasses all that this world could ever offer me and I would walk away from it all over and over and over again, to know more and more and more if this love and joy that He supplies. I am learning, oh so slowly, that whatever I give up in this world, He replaces with far more than I could ever have imagined. Not with things the world finds value in, but with that which has no value, because it can never be lost.

Let me live my life in such a way that I grasp that which has no value in this world, but surpasses all value in His kingdom.

Monday, December 13, 2010

That time of year.

It is the Christmas season. It is the most wonderful time of year. The time of year that sings of hot chocolaty nights...

...filled with crackling fires to make the chocolate taste all the more delicious.

The time of year filled with tiny lights sparkling and winking as if the sky had let stars rain down.

The time of year when troubles seem to melt away (unless you're stressing over Christmas presents...I wouldn't recommend that) and laughter, joy and mirth go dancing about here and there.

The time of year when the air seems to be made of such delights as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, orange, pumpkin, and apples.

The time of year when, no matter what kind of family you have, no matter how they can drive you crazy at times, you overflow with love for them and want to be with them. The time of year when the smell of a Christmas tree floods your memories with years gone by and lighting it for the first time is like magic itself. Yes, it's the most wonderful time of year.

I have had several people say to me lately that they feel this is also the most selfish time of year. The time of year that sets our children up for thinking only about what they want as opposed to what they can give. The time of year that replaces the true meaning of Christmas, Jesus, with Santa, Frosty, and Rudolph. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I don't like these characters as much as anyone, but if it's true that we're letting them take the place of Jesus Christ, we have a serious problem. If this is true in my own life, I would rather cast them out than to have Jesus given less glory, because that is all that matters to me.

This is my favorite time of year, I love everything about it. Not for what I might get from others, but just for the beauty and love I feel. For the thought that, Jesus, though December 25th may not be His exact birthday, did come as a tiny baby, He did leave heaven for me, and He did take on human form forever because of His great love for you and I. This is the truth. No matter when He was born, this is the immovable truth. So, this is what Christmas is all about to me, it's not about the gifts, hot chocolate, Santa, or any other representation of Christmas. It is only about Him, but this is how it should be with everything that enters my life, with every aspect of who I am. For as I have said before, I am not my own, I am His. And if I am His then nothing I do can be about me or anything else, it can only be about Him and giving Him glory in all I do, because I love Him so.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Jesus, you have won my heart.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Random Thoughts.

Here I sit and I realized that I am thinking about the most random things. So, what do I do with all this randomness going on inside me? Blog about it of course!

1. If I planted a bulb indoors in a class jar, how long would it take for it to bloom? I think I shall try this little experiment...what kind of bulb should I plant? Anyone want to give me any suggestions or tips?

2. If one more person walks by me that wreaks of cigarettes, I am quite sure to be ill.

3. There is a woman sitting across from me reading this ginormous book on...kittens. Yes.

4. Which will be better for a tummy that's not feeling so well, peppermint or ginger tea?

5. If I could play any instrument I wanted, I'd play the cello. But, I play the violin.

6. I am about to be it weird that I don't feel weird about this? People keep acting like I should be freaking out because I'm half way through my twenties and, "You're going to be 30 in five years." Why, yes, yes I am. Imagine that?! You can do math!

7. Forget the ginger and peppermint tea, I'll take Holiday tea instead. Cinnamon, cloves, and orange...YUM!

8. This ring on my hand has gotten way too much does it cost to have a ring resized?

9. I want Grace to come home please.

10. I am addicted to quirky decorating magazines. Oh man, do I have the best idea for my golden wall. I'll probably have to post pictures of it:-)

11. I miss a certain friend. A lot.

12. I love oranges!!!

13. Could I find an old window pane anywhere to hang on my wall? How neat would that be??

14. I would really love some extra dark chocolate right about now.

15. I am ecstatic that my Mom is coming to spend next weekend with me for my birthday:-D

16. I'm becoming quite obsessed with bell jars, bird's nests, and moss. There's something charming about bringing the outdoors into indoor decorating. And I LOVE to decorate...becoming quite the expert on how to do this on a shoe string budget.

17. Also, falling in love with splashes of purple and hints of gold here and there.

18. Wonder how much my decorating style will have changed when I'm the dreaded 30? I'm quite excited about being 30. What is everyone going on about?

19. I am determined to read a book and have it finished by next week. This is not a huge feat for me seeing how I'm usually a voracious reader. Lately, reading has not been the top priority, however. Time to amend that.

20. Do you ever blog and journal at the same time? I do. Doing it right now actually:-)

21. Listening to Rachmaninoff Rhapsody and Songbird over and over again.

22. Why is it that when I have the most wonderful desk, I choose to sit on the floor with computer, journal, and books all sitting on Nama's old trunk? It is the perfect height to type though.

23. What would it be like to spend a year in England or Ireland living in a little country cottage and just writing. Writing and concentrating on photography till my heart wanted to burst? I'd like to find out...

24. I miss Italy. A lot.

25. I wish we had open air markets here like Switzerland and Italy. I could live off bread, cheese, and fresh fruit...and espresso and dark chocolate of course:-)

26. I've discovered recently that I like dijon mustard far more than is normal. Really.

27. I have also discovered that I really enjoy soft boiled eggs, hate hard boiled eggs, and prefer sunny side up above all the rest:-)

28. I want to wear my Bible out. You know, where you pick it up and know that this Bible is well worn and used daily.

29. Why can't "The Egg and I" have cinnamon-nutmeg coffee year round? I'd drink it:-)

30. I have now come to number 30 and decided to end here. I'd love to know if any of my...cough, cough, faithful, cough, cough...readers have anything to say about all this randomness I've just thrown at you! And I hope that you, dear reader, have a beautiful night...go enjoy some dark chocolate. Or an orange.

Friday, December 3, 2010


There is something so enchanting about a beautiful window. Perhaps it's the way the light dances and laughs through the panes, or the view from out of it's glistening surface. There are times when to sit at a window and gaze out, at nothing in particular, is the most wonderful thing in the world. To allow your mind to just wander back and forth between whatever this window may evoke, could be no more perfect at the time.

There have been many windows that have played significant roles in my life. Windows who's views, panes, or glass seemed to spur something in my soul, that demanded I take action and do whatever it was they were demanding I do. At times, it was the view I saw. Some windows showcased a shining, twisting, curving river, framed and surrounded by low blue ridge mountains. Some windows showed a beautiful back yard, full of childhood wonder and wisdom, swing sets and fig trees, wood piles and gardens.

Some proudly exhibited the beautiful, lonely sea, evoking emotions perhaps deeper than any other view. Or perhaps, there was haunting beauty that my heart found in the glass itself. Glass that was old and waving beautifully with time, glass that was clouded from years of standing between the inside and outside worlds they were caught between.

Some of the glass panes colored their outside views a bit blue or green, causing everything seen to be magically altered. And how could I withstand the charm of how many windows, especially those that are forever frozen in time, are dressed. There is nothing that gives me a thrill quite like a well done-up window. With panes thrown open and a gentle breeze softly lifting the cloth of choice hung there, the sight quietly steals a corner tucked away in my heart, reserved only for ordinary beauty such as this. In these moments, I know that from said window, anything is possible...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

For Gabi

Winter has taken a firm grip on Ellerslie, turning it into a world that is far different than the one you knew. It is a world devoid of color, but truly beautiful for it. Waking for 5 a.m. prayer now requires everyone to meet in the chapel, for Jack Frost has made certain the mornings are a bit too cool to brave for an hour or more. My window now greets me with happy little trails of frost and my breath dances out in puffs, running here and there through the air. Students bundle up with coat, hats, and gloves, crunching through gleaming snow as they come back and forth from sessions. Often they will come sprinting into the dorms, laughingly relieved to be in out of the frigid air.

And the lake. Ah, our little lake has taken on a new look for this time of year. No longer does it allow the sun to sparkle and dance across its surface. No, it is a bit more serious these days. From wherever lakes keep what they choose to wear, it has dug up an outfit made of deep blue, thin ice, which runs here and there along all that it is. No longer the laughing little lake you left, it now contemplates the world about it, and often I wonder what it must be thinking of. Indeed, there are days when we just sit and wonder about all sorts of things together. You can do that with lakes, you know, only if you've taken the time to become great friends with them. I know you and our little lake were great friends, for it tells me often of how it misses you:-) Yes, as I was sitting by it's shore only the other day, it wondered to me what you must be doing and if you ever thought of it. It wondered if I might tell you that you are greatly missed and to please think of it now and again. I assured it I would let you know and that I was quite certain you had not forgotten about it. Lakes need to be assured now and then that those who have left them think of them still. Especially our little lake, it is so small after all.

Life is moving along at quite a fast pace as always. It is beautiful and wonderful and full of many grand, ordinary adventures! The kiddos are as precious as ever, curious about everything and constantly saying the funniest things! Life can never be dull when one has four little ones to fill their time:-)

Presently, I am watching as the sun has begun to light the mountains on fire. There is something especially beautiful about winter sunsets here, I wish you could come and see one. You are greatly missed here, dear one, and thought of often, especially by our little lake and me:-) We miss you terribly and hope you are growing in Jesus, pressing into all the He is, and finding His joy unspeakable.