Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I Believe!

As of today I have resigned myself to the fact that I will not have Christmas cards sent to anyone in time for Christmas this year. I knew exactly what I wanted to say and we even got a usable family picture at the beach - which was not as easy as it sounds! It might end up becoming a Happy New Year, Happy Valentine's, or even Happy Easter greeting in 2011. (I actually did send a Happy Easter greeting in lieu of Christmas cards a few years back.) And that's okay. I'll spare the reasons why and let you fill in the blanks.

But I would like to share my Christmas card thought while still in the season...

So of course, first, Merry Christmas to you!

(My little Christmas decor specialist this year - gotta love the "bulb laden" branches on the bottom half of the tree! It makes me smile every time I see it.)

Earlier this month we spent a quiet evening together learning songs the children at church were to sing at the Christmas program. It was the first time I felt "the true Spirit of Christmas" this holiday season and it was a beautiful moment, something I really needed.

We asked our boys what Christmas means to them, and our five year-old replied, "Hot cocoa and Jesus." Love it!

Our eight year-old replied thoughtfully, "It means Jesus' birth to me - it means just about everything."

It was one of those moments when Heaven felt pretty close, and I put my arms around him and said "Thank you."

I thought a lot about the question that night, "What does Christmas mean to you?" and how I would answer it. The words from Luke 2:6-7 came to mind, and I thought about how Mary and Joseph sacrificed so much to fulfill prophecy given about their Son, even (maybe especially) in the circumstances of His birth. I can only try to imagine how His mission and Mary's role in preparing Him through His early years affected her deeply as a mother. I pictured this young, Holy little family and a felt a great love for them and gratitude for their faithfulness in everything they did. Obedience probably didn't feel so singularly extraordinary at the time. But because they were, the salvation of all mankind became possible.

What does Christmas mean to me? "And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger...For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosover believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (Luke 2:7; John 3:16). He came for us. This influences every part of my life and is the reason my heart is full. Yes, I believe.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A month in Monterey

I can't quite say we're all settled in here, as much as I long to be able to say it! I sometimes still have the strange feeling that it's been a month-long vacation of sorts, that we're just kind of pretending we live here. I've considered establishing our own sand box by the front door from all the sand that comes home in our boys' shoes on a daily basis. Maybe once it's full I'll realize that we've been here long enough to call it home. (Free refills!)

(This is what my GPS came up with when I selected "Go Home"...with an arrival time of 48 hours later. I almost cried!)

With plenty of ups and downs during the past month, I've remembered my realization when we moved to Europe: "Moving overseas is not the same as vacationing there." Unfortunately, moving to a resort area doesn't automatically equate to living the resort life! However...

How 'bout I just focus on the "ups" here? There are plenty of them.

Lovin' the trees here. So much character. Doesn't this one look like a Dr. Suess kind of tree? (Look closely at the branches coming straight out of the top like a row of candlesticks.)

A favorite of our boys - we see this one every Sunday in the church parking lot.

This tree is like 12 in 1! One of my favorites.

It's a new experience for us to live so close to the coast - and there is a lot of fog and mist in the air that go along with it that makes the air just feel good. Everytime I drive by the beach and see the waves crashing it still takes my breath away!

The most-mentioned attraction in Monterey by friends who've been here was the Aquarium. It did not disappoint! We'll be returning there often.

Cannery Row is adorable and it reminds me a lot of Seattle, where I served as a missionary for 18-months several years ago.

It's fun to see the CA flag waving alongside the American flag...

So, I've heard of 30-minute parking before, but this one still makes me smile:

(If any of my new friends are reading this and have a logical explanation, I'd love to hear it.)

Okay, last pictures for today: Dennis the Menace Park. A very clever and fun spot!

I have every intention of posting again before the holidays, but you know with best of intentions sometimes reality takes priority. So just in case, Happy Holidays and may your days be merry and bright!