Friday, December 31, 2010

Think Tall in the Mall

I admit it. Just in case you hadn't noticed. I am short. Getting shorter, according to my most recent physical. Had the nurse check twice, but she said the same thing both times. No longer 5'2 and 3/4", but a solid 5'2". (By saying solid, I am not referring to my weight - that is a whole different pound of worms.) So, I am short. Let's say petite, since it sounds cute.

Over Christmas vacation, we used a large variety of dishes from different stashing places around the house. Lucky me, I have a wonderful husband who most usually cleans up after dinner. And puts things away. Out of my reach. Remember I am barely two inches past 5 measly feet tall.

On one certain occasion, date to remain unclarified, the love of my life was, again, putting things out of my reach.

"Honey, could you please rearrange those so I can reach them?" I asked nicely.

Honestly, he thought he was putting them within reach. But he is 6'2". He can easily grab ANYTHING in our home, while I have to fall back on my non-existent engineering degree to safely stack chairs and clamber up to get what I need.

"When you put things away, think short!" I said (only a little whine). "Think how far I can reach, and then put them there."

Nicely, at least for that moment in time, he obliged my request. That was that.

Fast forward a day or two. We went to the mall to run a few errands. Being short, (5'2" and nothing more), I zipped in and out and around crowds of other mall goers, often leaving my honey stuck under a kiosk or several families back, wondering where I was (6'2" people can't duck under and around like little wizard-y short people).

Upon reaching the end of the mall, he caught up to me. "Think tall," he said.

"What?" I wondered if he had eaten a few too many Fruit Loops.

"In the mall, think tall," he said, peering down at my short head. "I can't speed around people the way you do. I just smacked myself at the kiosk."

Cricking my neck WAY back, I gazed into his gleaming eyes. "HAH," I said. "Ok, at home, think short. At the mall, think tall."

We'll see if it holds.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Someone's Been Eating My Porridge

Ok. I know someone's been eating my porridge. Not too hot, not too cold...just right.

I'm trying to tune up and oil my sewing machine, which has been mostly neglected for the past four or five years. I would go so far as to say it is desperate (!!!) for some attention. It actually attempts to eat fabric at this point, as a frantic cry for lubrication and de-fuzzing.

After successful cleaning (who knew dust bunnies multiplied inside a sewing machine?), and several unscrewing and replacing of screws complete, I reached an impasse. One screw was particularly in love with it's location and refused to come out. (I was the last one to do this service, so I must have been stronger back then.)

Screwdriver number 1 - broke. Twisting in it's shank, doing squat.
Screwdriver number 2 - too short.
Screwdriver number 3 - even shorter.
Screwdriver number 4 - a close twin to the short ones.

I had to resort to my massively disorganized and PERSONAL tool box. I said personal, as in 'it is mine, my territory, my stuff...'

What is there? ONE even shorter screwdriver! I know I am short, and shrinking, according to a recent visit to my doctor, but I do not need ONLY a short (two inches???) screwdriver.

Hummph. I know who took it. Not Goldilocks. It was one of the two big bears. The furry taker of tools to work on miscellaneous vehicles that reside outside. And then I am sure the screwdrivers I need stayed in their new home refusing to come back home. All grown up and out on their own.

I'm blaming the bears.

After the porridge is recovered (or purchased anew) I will lock up the cook pot.

Now. How to finish the sewing machine before dinner?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Cat

She loves Christmas. Especially the wrapping paper, trees, and general mess ready for her attack. Christmas just wouldn't be the same without her gnawing on the curling ribbon or hiding beneath wrapping paper or helping ??? wrap presents. Sure, it takes longer, and cat hair is in everything! But what fun, oh what fun, to enjoy the festivities sneaking past or looking for the hiding feline.

Beware the toes. I'm just sayin'...

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Fifth Advent

Joy to the world! The Lord is come! (Feel free to sing along.)

Welcome to the fifth advent - the Christ Child candle. Light all of the five candles on this day, Christmas Eve.

"Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because He has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David." (Luke 1:68-69)

"He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end." (Luke 1:32-33)

"For nothing is impossible with God." (Luke 1:37)

Nothing is impossible with God. Everything is possible. Hope was born that night, long ago in Bethlehem. Hope was born in an animal dwelling, with its only spotlight that of his parents focused attention and the heavenly shining star. Interior decor was farm and country. The audience consisted of livestock, human parents, celestial beings, and Father God. Musical accompaniment was provided by a multitude of heavenly hosts praising God and singing a new song. This holy night was one for the Book, a night to remember and celebrate for all eternity.

A new song for the way for all things to be made new. An end to the Old Testament. A beginning to the New Testament. A new covenant and a fulfilled promise.

I'm glad that after the reminder of Christmas and what it means, I get the chance to start fresh. A new year, clean beginning, energized hope for coming times.

Silent night, holy night. Joy to the world!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tree Catching

tree catching: definition - hunting in the woods for the perfect sweet smelling evergreen for the completion of decking the halls in anticipation of Christmas Day (Note: after purchasing the appropriate tags and paying correct fees)

required equipment: tree tags, hand saw, rope, 4x4 vehicle, winter clothing, ceiling measurements

outcome: We won! Bagged our trees with only slightly soaked clothing and boots (melting snow inside your boots definitely makes you appreciate indoor heat and dry socks). We avoided slipping off the edge of the steep road, did not hit other vehicles, found beautiful trees amidst the snow covered hills, and the male assistants offered minimal complaining. ;0 That in itself was pretty awesome.

benefits: pine scent filling the house, plenty of extra drinking water for the cat (note to self - refill often), beautiful addition to our decor that sets off the special ornament collection displayed on its branches, another Christmas adventure for the memory files

The ceiling is somewhat shorter than my estimated measurements. Even after making my guys stand beside the trees for a guess-ti-mate. Worth it anyway.

The Fourth Advent

My, how quickly time flies, especially the days leading up to Christmas! Last Sunday, we celebrated the fourth advent. On this day, we remember the Magi, or the Wisemen, and the part they played in the Christmas story.

Fourth Day of Advent - (1-Prophecy, 2-Bethlehem, 3-Shepherds and Angels, and then 4-Magi). The Magi, also known as the Wisemen, came from the East and followed the Christmas star to where it stopped over the house where Jesus and His mother and father lived. Not only did they travel MANY miles,...but they also brought expensive gifts for the King, God, and Sacrifice. Gold for the King, frankincense for God, and myrrh for the Sacrifice. The theme song for the fourth advent tells of the gifts they gave to the Christ Child. Light the fourth candle after relighting the first three.

Read Matthew 2:1-12. And then sing, "We Three Kings"...

Oh, star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright! I love Christmas!
Christmas Eve or Christmas Day - the fifth advent...stay tuned.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Not What I Expected

Expectations. We have many great ones, but an expectation is not a guarantee. Just something we think is going to happen.

Take for example, a recent Christmas gathering I attended. There was the usual buffet of high calorie/high fat/high sugar finger foods (READ: This is not a good time for me to have my yearly check-up blood work, which occurs next week). White elephants were dancing around the room, and for once, I managed to snag a really cool thing on the final steal (strike 3 - changes of hands - you're out and you get to keep it). And then gifts were handed out by various people. I expected to receive a certain thing, yet I did not. Many others did. But I did not.

Expectations faded into blankness. Surprise. It wasn't a guarantee. I just thought I knew what I would get. Now, I know, 'getting' is not the most important thing at Christmas. Giving is much better. But in this situation, I assumed the conclusion of the event, but my assuming was along a different route than the actual outcome.

Many gifts still changed hands. Delight was evident and shared by all, as well as holiday joy and camaraderie. But the great expectation did not occur as expected.

As I was pondering expectations and how that impacts all sorts of things, I began to think of the Christmas story. Actually, I was thinking of many, many years BEFORE the Christmas story. Prophets foretold the coming of the Messiah, and the new King who would save His people, Israel, and be the Savior for His chosen.

Generations of scholars and descendants from the line of David studied the scrolls and Scripture and wondered about the coming of the Messiah. They prayed and waited excitedly for the Messiah to appear. They anticipated a wondrous event. Each generation thought the Messiah might come on stage during their lifetime. They had great expectations for what they imagined the Messiah would look like, how He would live, and what He would do to help the people. Great expectations.

Centuries later...

Lo and behold, the Messiah came. But He did not come as expected. Instead of an adult, fully grown King and Holy Leader ready to set the world in order, a tiny baby was born. Quietly and in the most lowly place possible. God with us. Surely that was not the plan? How far off could expectations be?

A Messiah? Yes. In the expected format? No way. Actually, the Messiah was so different from what was expected, many refused to believe that Jesus was He, the Promised One, the Messiah as foretold. And then, after the Messiah arrived, most people did not know it was Him until He was 30 years old. Even then, the Messiah, God's Son Jesus, was not what was expected. He did not raise up armies to defeat the enemies and lead His people in triumph.

Quite the opposite. He allowed Himself to be defeated (to all outward appearances), even to the end of dying on a cross in a cruel and humiliating experience.

Again, lo and behold. The Messiah arose from the grave. Fully Messiah, fully God with us, and fully human, once dead, but now alive. Was He as expected? Certainly not. He was much better than expected. Jesus IS much better than expected. He IS the Great Expectation.

Would I have mis-expected how the Messiah appeared if I had lived back then? It's pretty easy to look back in time when I have a complete Bible detailing the full story for me (plus a great concordance and study notes). Since God had such a wonderful surprise for us when He sent Jesus, I probably would have been in error with my expectations.

I know the story. I believe what happened. If I believe that Jesus is the Messiah, then I must also read the end of the Book, and more expectations are in order! Jesus, the King, the Messiah, will come back again! He is coming!

Another Great Expectation. Probably not exactly how I expect it, but it will be a wondrous surprise that surpasses all that we can expect.

Keep expecting.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Third Advent

Already!?! This Christmas season is going amazingly fast. The winter storm that dumped upon us oodles of heavy snow was awesome. Really feels more like Christmas when there is snow falling or piling or causing difficult driving.

Today marks the third day of advent. Light the third candle, which symbolizes and reminds us of the angels and the shepherds and the part they played in the first, original and true Christmas. (The REAL reason for the season is the birth of Christ, contrary to a current anti-Christmas ploy by unbelievers.) The story (as in true life account) of the birth of Christ is non-fiction. It happened.

"And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. And the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths, and lying in a manger."

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased,"
(Luke 2:8-14).

Which shall be for all the people...that is all the people of the entire world, past, present, and future!

You and I. Us and them. These and the others. ALL people.

What excellent news the shepherds received that night! And they went and told all they had seen and heard.

Join together as we praise God and give Him glory for His indescribable gift, one that came in a tiny and unexpected package. Looked for, but not in the way He arrived. Willingly and humbly, Mary and Joseph accepted the role God had for them to play.

Yes, another reason to give glory to God. Amen.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Top Ten (Ways to Use My Books for Christmas)

Per suggestion I recently read: TA-DAH! Welcome to
Angie's Top Ten Ways to Use Her Books for Christmas.

10. Can you? Read I Can Do It. Look at the different things Meiying does to be on mission (live like Jesus and tell others about Him). Look at the Chinese writing on the sides of the illustrations. Take the book with you and go to a Chinese restaurant for dinner. Reach out in love to the servers. If you have Chinese servers, after the meal, choose one of the pages and ask your server to read it in Chinese for you. Try to repeat the words. Ask how to say Thank you and good-bye in Chinese. Repeat the words as you leave the restaurant. Mmmm. This makes me hungry!

9. Make sure that your child's teacher has a copy of Families on Mission, Ideas for Teaching Your Preschooler to Love, Share, and Care. If she does not have a personal copy, buy her one for Christmas. Before you wrap the book, help your child print his or her name on the inside cover. Choose one of the chapters and look at the activities. Help your child highlight an activity that he or she would like to do. Place a sticky note to mark the page. Wrap the book and let your child hand deliver it to the teacher. Offer to help prepare or do some of the suggestions in the book. You will be a favorite with the teacher!

8. Read I Can Pray. Purchase a large desk calendar at an office supply store. Let your child decorate the borders of the calendar. Think about people you know that need prayer. With your child, print one name on each day of the month. Make sure to list a person on the date of his/her birthday! Display the calendar near the dining room table. Choose a meal (breakfast, lunch, or dinner) and create the daily habit of praying for the listed person at your chosen meal. Model how to pray aloud and let your child echo your words or think up and say his/her own words. Your child can draw a heart or star or squiggle on each day you remember to pray. Continue for each month of the year (repeat names as often as you like). BTW - my birthday is November 20th, if you want to add it to the calendar! I could always use prayer. ;0

7. Does your child's classroom have any of these books (see list at the bottom or past posts to my blog)? Donate a complete set. Let your child do the giving. Volunteer to host a weekly read-aloud. Read a different book each week and provide a simple 'after reading activity' (see the back of each book, or any part of Families on Mission).

6. Does your school have an auction? Donate a set to be auctioned off as part of the fund raiser. Is your doctor or dentist a Christian? Suggest these books for the waiting room. Provide information on how to get them, or get them and give them to your provider. If you are in the northwest, get in touch with me, and maybe we can do something together centered around one or more of the books. ;0 Have a stash of the books on hand and include a copy for new parents or give a copy for a birthday gift when your child is invited to a party. The possibilities are endless!

5. I Can Give has many ideas for ways to give to others. Not all giving activities need to mean 'give money.' How about giving some time to a shut in? Sometimes visiting brings more cheer than any gift. If you have a friendly dog, perhaps your family would like to give some time to a local nursing home (always check with the facility before taking children or pets). Maybe you would like to collect toys and necessities for a women's and children's shelter. Many people write notes and send mail to our military personnel in December, but how about writing or making Valentines and sending them in January? Shoveling snow, helping with chores, surprising mommy or daddy with a special treat (dinner, bed made up hotel style with a chocolate and a love note, cleaned bedroom, I love you! banner), donating gently used or outgrown items to a thrift store...teach your child to look around her/him for ways to help others. Make it a game. Everybody wins!

4. Read I Can Be More Like Jesus. Look through a children's Bible and find examples of what Jesus was like. Point out how Jesus treated others (loving, forgiving, friendly, helpful) and think of one thing your family can focus on to be more like Jesus. Make it a goal to work hard on that idea during the Christmas season. Read the book again on January 1st and check to see if you were successful.

3. Picture walk I Can Give. As a family, think of an extended family member or neighbor or friend who would benefit from your special attention. Plan and implement a giving project to help or show love to that person. Some ideas could be: invite them to dinner, bake cookies and deliver them secretly (ring the doorbell and run), decorate their door for Christmas, wash their car, use old magazines to make a collage card of friends/family (write a mushy note inside), go for a neighborhood 'see the Christmas lights' walk and have hot cocoa afterwards, greet them with a smile and hug each time you see them...). I know they will love the attention.

2. Put the books in a paper sack. Let your child reach in and pull out a book. Read it with your child. Or let your child read it to you. Choose one of the extra activities at the end (or any part of the book) and do it together. Take pictures of you reading the book together and doing the activity. Put the books on a coffee table and tuck the pictures inside the book cover. Do this with all the books. Go back and reread the books and look at the photographs. Fun times! Don't be surprised if you have requests for repeats.

1. The top ten way to use my books - ;0 - buy them! Give them as gifts! Drop by and I'll autograph them. I'll even use my best writing so you can read it! (PS - I always draw a little cat's face on the books I autograph, just for fun.)

Thanks for letting me be silly and talk about my books (again). Merry Christmas!

*Books by Angie Quantrell:
I Can Pray
I Can Give
I Can Do It
I Can Be More Like Jesus
Families on Mission, Ideas for Teaching Your Preschooler to Love, Share, and Care

*Available at any of the sources listed at the bottom of this blog.

Monday, December 6, 2010

While You Were Sleeping

Disappointed to miss the second half of an interview with Casting Crowns on K-love, I drove out of my coffee stop (a girl's got to have her morning joe, right?), and started listening to a song in progress. I hadn't heard it before, but suddenly, the lyrics caught my ear. Something about 'philosophies that save the trees and kill the children' (hurts to even type those words). Later on I found the words were on Casting Crown's new Christmas CD in the middle of the song "While You Were Sleeping." Quite a wake-up call for all of us.

Back to the story. As I was trying to figure out the lyrics and what they meant, and then started thinking about the bride disappearing in the night, taken by the Bridegroom, I got excited about being caught up in the air and seeing Jesus. Did I mention I was driving?

As I reached the next traffic light (usually a very heavily trafficked intersection, but not so bad at 6:30 am), I saw the light turn green. I continued on, dividing my brain into thinking about what was on the radio and driving. Then I noticed that there was quite a bit of traffic lined up in front of me, facing me. Hmmmm?

As I blew through the intersection, I suddenly realized that the traffic was waiting for some idiot to stop for the red light. (clears throat) That would be me. They had the green light. I thought I had green, but no, it was the turn lane's green. Not mine. (hyperventilate) I was thinking about Jesus coming back to get me, when I was a hair's breadth from going to see Him instead! I am so ecstatic that those cars patiently waited for me (mumbling I'm sure, but they waited).

(Deep cleansing breath). Now. Focus on what is most important at the time. Driving was definitely most important. "While You Were Sleeping"...title of the song. Wasn't sleeping, but I'm sure I appeared to be. Sorry, very kind drivers.

Now, I must remember that I, too, can drive horribly and be more patient when others mess up. No mumbling. (think, self, was me last week, it was me last week). Sigh.

And back to the song, "While You Were Sleeping" by Casting Crowns:

United States of America
Looks like another silent night
As we're sung to sleep by philosophies
That save the trees and kill the children
And while we're lying in the dark
There's a shout heard 'cross the eastern sky
For the Bridegroom has returned
And has carried His bride away in the night

America, what will we miss while we are sleeping
Will Jesus come again
And leave us slumbering where we lay
America, will we go down in history
As a nation with no room for its King
Will we be sleeping
Will we be sleeping

Something to think about. Now, keep your eyes open for me when you're out on the road. I'll be NOT going through red lights.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Bethlehem Candle

Today marks the second Sunday of Advent. Light two candles, one for last week (prophecy) and one for today (the Bethlehem Candle). We read and think about Bethlehem and the importance this little town plays in the history of our Lord.

"In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." Luke 2:1-7

If you live in the Yakima area, the Journey to Bethlehem is excellent! The setting of Bible time Bethlehem, including Roman guards, smokey market stalls, lepers, beggars, Jewish customs, taxes (nothing has changed, here, huh?), live animals, authentic characters, is awesome...This seasonal family event is highly recommended!

Read more about the Christmas story in Matthew 1:18-25. And don't forget to sing "O Little Town of Bethlehem."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Three-eyed Baby Jesus

The first time I heard a question from a student, I passed it off quite flippantly.

"Mrs. Q., why does Baby Jesus have three eyes?" asked one boy.

"Well, I don't know." (In my mind, I'm wondering what in the world?). "Maybe one is for the Father, one for Jesus, and one for the Holy Ghost."

I know. Not a good answer for inquiring minds.

Again, later. In fact, several laters...days later...again and again..."Why does Baby Jesus have three eyes?" "Look, Baby Jesus has three eyes." "Oh, did you see Baby Jesus and His three eyes?"

Honestly, the comments or questions ALWAYS came when it was time for something else or time to be quiet or time for lunch or recess or chapel...I didn't spend three extra seconds pondering the mystery of Baby Jesus and His supposed three eyes.

Until yesterday. Again, the 'three-eyes Baby Jesus comment.' Inside, my mind finally decided I need to take a look. Even if these 48 year-old eyes don't see as well as 8-10 year-olds. I need to use my cheaters and check it out.

Well, LO, and behold. Baby Jesus DID have three eyes. Who in their right mind gives Baby Jesus three eyes? And why had I not noticed it the year prior, when I purchased the nativity set?

Certainly, Jesus does not need three eyes. He can see everything and know everything and do everything and be everything without eyes at all. But maybe I need three eyes, so I can pay attention to tiny details and inquisitive minds and potential opportunities of spreading a little Light in the hearts of children with unboxed-in minds, ready to hear and believe.

Ahem. "You're right," I said, peering through my reading glasses. "Baby Jesus DOES have three eyes."

I think it may have been one of the few times all eyes and ears were on my radio station, not channel searching on their own for something interesting besides math, language, spelling, or history.

"I guess the artist who painted it made a mistake."

Quite a letdown. But all seemed to accept the answer, and I haven't heard another inquiry or pointed comment about the still three-eyed Baby Jesus. Without question, they accepted the fallibility of human work. Second and third graders make mistakes daily, even hourly, in their job of learning. It doesn't take much to imagine that adults make errors in their jobs.

Regardless of how many eyes Baby Jesus has, the real Jesus is perfect. He has the correct number of eyes. And He loves comments, questions, inquiries, loving hearts, open minds...and He accepts us as we are. Mistakes and all, without counting (not even extra eyes).

I am looking for flesh colored paint. I don't know if I'll paint over the third eye. I do know that I will be more sensitive to the little moments when Jesus has young hearts ready and receptive.

How many eyes does your Baby Jesus have?