Because the Christmas season is filled with extended family we celebrate our family Christmas the week before Christmas.
We start with our Christmas eve.- singing together, reading of Jesus' birth in the book of Luke, praying together, then off to bed (so mommy and daddy can fill stockings, and make preparations for our Christmas day).
We wake to surprises under the tree, and open stockings.
We celebrate Jesus' birthday with a birthday breakfast party, just as we have celebrated each of our own birthdays through the year (complete with the table set, balloons, and streamers).
We read the story of Jesus' birth again, this time from the book of Matthew. We talk about Jesus being the gift we received that first Christmas. We speak of how God became man, was born here on earth, and how he longs to be born in us, live in us.
We open presents. We go to church together. Come home and play together. We have a yummy "Linner" (lunch-dinner.This year we treated the kids to Tepanyaki. Entertainment, good food, and no cooking or clean up make for a very Merry Christmas). Because our Christmas is a week early, we make it a goal to be done with all Christmas wrapping, crafting, buying, and preparing by our Christmas. This gives us a wonderful week off to enjoy the Christmas season, to enjoy advent and the coming of Jesus.
I never knew 9 years ago when we began this that it would become tradition. I LOVE that it has. I confess moving Our Christmas was a little awkward those first couple years, But it has become so familiar, so who we are.
What Christmas traditions does your family have or have you created?
Every Christmas day we travel to visit my family, the Teodosio family. Christmas has always been hosted by my aunt and uncle, Mary and Joseph. My uncle, Joseph Gabriel, was born on Christmas day, he is married to my aunt, Maria Gloria. They have three sons. None of them are named Jesus.
My family is a large Portuguese family. There are almost to many to count-44. There will be two more joining us this year by marriage and birth.
It is wonderful to come from a large family. I watch my grandmother and think of how this beloved family began more than 62 years ago, on the little Portuguese island of Flores, Azores, on the Atlantic Ocean. It began with a man and woman standing beside each other in a small catholic church. Neither knew what their future would hold.
Neither knew then that it would include 6 children, a new life in America, determination, strength, perseverance, heartbreak, grandchildren (including my sister and I who they raised), unconditional love, step- grandchildren, faithfulness, great-grandchildren, loss, loyalty, tradition, adopted great-grandchildren, and always- Hope.
I am blessed to be part of such a family.
It is overwhelming to think that God knew each of us then, back in that little church, on that little island, a million miles (well almost) away from here. It is overwhelming to think that He loved each of us then, just as He does now.
And I wonder what my little family of 5 will grow to be because of the love of a man and a woman standing before God in a church 13 years ago.
I can't wait for those Christmases when I will be surrounded by many generations of Jones'! Row 1, Aunt Violet (whose finally going to be a g-ma) with Aunt Vicki and her grand-daughter Ava. Josie with her doll wearing a sweater made by Vava. Cousins-Amy, Sarah, Ava, and Michelle Row 2, w/ my cousin Michelle, Christmas Decor, cousin Gabriel w/ g.f. Margie Row 3, Aunt Hilda & Uncle Armando, Cousins Sean & Aaron w/ my Aunt Vicki (who was in a car accident in Sept. She is on recovery road- last month she was still in a wheel chair, this month she is using a walker! We are SO GLAD God let us keep her. Btw- her name means "Victory!"), w/ Cousin Michael. Row 4, Sean, Vava, and me, happy Aunt Violet, Aunt Marie, Josie, & Aunt Violet
i recently mentioned in this post, that the two words "but God" are the most beautiful words...that these two words can say everything.
i had intended to write a post sharing with you why i believe that, but my friend thea beat me to it. i'm glad she did because her words say what i wanted to say perfectly!
below are thea's words. stop by and visit her blog, and tell her denise sent you!
"But God." My friend Denise has gotten me thinking about these words a lot. She's right--they're some of the most beautiful words ever.
I love that you can write anything in front of them. Anything! Stories of soiled souls, hopeless happenings, and seemingly unredeemable circumstances, and then swoop in right behind them with "BUT GOD" and the rest all fades in comparison.
"I was rejected by those who should have loved me." BUT GOD.
"My accusers breathe lies against me day and night." BUT GOD.
"I made selfish choices that hurt others and cost me my ministry." BUT GOD.
"I couldn't hold it all together and it fell apart." BUT GOD.
I was thinking about these words this morning especially as I read through Isaiah 60 and camped out on verse 2:
"See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, BUT THE LORD rises upon you and His glory appears over you."
Darkness...thick darkness. BUT THE LORD.
And so often this "But God" part seems to always have to do with revealing His glory. Through our reprehensible deeds and those done to us, He is all about revealing His glory in us and through us.
Go ahead and fill in the blank. There's nothing in the first part of the sentence that supercedes the power and the glory and the majesty of the second.
Advent day 15- FREE HOT CHOCOLATE STAND! Scripture- Zechariah 9:9-17 This was our 6th year giving free hot cocoa to our community at Christmas. Every year WE are blessed in the giving. We love to stand together as a family and give out up to 160 cups of Hot Cocoa. The voices of my children shouting "free hot chocolate!" delights me. This has become our Jones family tradition, and I LOVE THAT! This year (and every year) I prayed for all the individuals that took our free gift, and for those that that pass us by, that they would receive the FREE GIFT that God gave us that first Christmas- JESUS! I pray that Jesus would be born in each of them.
Advent day 16- Christmas Caroling Scripture- Philippians 4: 10-13
Advent day 17- Bake Cookies Scripture- 1 Thessalonians 2:19 & Romans 8:16-17a
Advent day 18- Cookie/Ornament Exchange PARTY! Scripture- Luke 2:8-20 The kids invited 2 friends each to our house to join us for their very own Christmas party (Thanks for letting this adult crash the party kids). All the children brought cookies and an ornament to exchange. They also brought a non-perishable food item to give to our local MANNA HOUSE, and $1 to give to Charity Water. We had a fun time playing a game, eating junk food, listening to a favorite story "The Tale of Three Trees," exchanging treats, decorating cookies, discussing a local charity, watching a video about Charity Water, and giving to both.
I LOVE that my kids are bigger, that we are at a stage where we can throw fun parties together. I enjoyed listening to all the kids giggles. Listening to them share their own stories, including stories of how their families are serving Christ in the community this Christmas season was delicious! MY KIDS HAVE DELIGHTFUL FRIENDS!
Advent day 19- Our Christmas Eve. Scripture- James 1:17 You read that right! it's our Christmas Eve. 9 years ago we moved our Christmas. Between Michael's family, and my families, we already have 3 Christmas' to attend on Christmas day! That is a blessing! BUT in order to have our own family Christmas we'd have to wake before dawn and be sleep-deprived-in-the-car-for-too-many-hours-eaten-too-many-Christmas-cookies-zombies by the time we hit our final destination, my Aunt Mary and Uncle Joseph's house (i'm not kidding). So we moved our Christmas to the Sunday before Christmas, and WE LOVE IT! We love having our family all to our selves, enjoying each other, and making our own traditions.
So tonight we'll be reading the Story of Jesus' birth, enjoying the wonder of it all, Expect-fully waiting for JESUS!
I'm also glad to know that when my own kids are adults they will not have to squeeze us in on Christmas day, as our family Christmas will always be reserved for the weekend before. DID YOU GET THAT KIDS! YOUR ALL MINE THE WEEKEND BEFORE CHRISTMAS FROM NOW UNTIL FOR.EV.ER!
Advent day 9- Make marshmallow men and drink hot cocoa. Isaiah 52:7-12
Advent day 10- Write letters to our Compassion child. Learn about and give to World Vision. (The kids wanted to help a family by purchasing chickens). Sing Christmas carols at a woman's luncheon. Mark 16:15
Advent day 11- Dinner out and a stroll down Christmas Tree Lane. 1 John 1:4-7–
Advent day 13- Christmas Cantata in the a.m.. Bonfire, caroling, and hot cocoa in the evening. John 8:12/ Ecc 3:3:13
Advent day 14- Christmas Piano Recital, and enjoy a new movie "The Tale of Despereaux." (If you haven't watched this movie I highly recommend it. It is a beautiful story about courage and forgiveness). Matthew 5:14-16
Advent day 6- "Here we come a wassailing!" Make wassail and watch "Little Women."
Scripture I John 1:5-22
Directions forNana'sSweet Wassail-4 cups brewed tea (i use lipton).
4 cups cranberry juice
4 cups apple juice (not apple cider)
1 cup O.J.
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon (and/or cinnamon sticks)
(it is very sweet. i add 6 cups of brewed tea to lessen the sweetness).
Add ingredients together in a pot, heat, and serve. Let it simmer all day with a ladle and Christmas cups in close reach! Your home is guaranteed to smell Christmasilicious!
Little Women is by far my favorite childhood book. I became a part of the March family when I was 14. I'd escape to the park down the street from my home, find my way to the shade of a tree, and imagine I was Jo March.
I love to watch the movie each Christmas. Over the years I have discovered that In some way I am each one of the March girls- Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy.
Have you read or watched Little Women? Which March girl are you most like?
In my last post I mentioned that Michael and I were going on a date.
Here's how the date turned out!
The van broke down.
Thankfully we had the camera (i always have my camera) and were able to occupy ourselves during the 45 min. wait for AAA towing to come rescue us. As you can see from this pic. we didn't go hungry! Thank you Rod (tow-truck guy) for chauffeuring us the 45 min. back up the hill to our town in your sweet ride.
The van is now awaiting surgery. It needs a new timing belt ($523). We are hoping (praying) that is the extent of it's injuries. If they're are more injuries it will have to undergo another surgery ($2,000+).
I was thinking it would be nice if the "medical expenses" for the van could be included in our other medical expenses from this year, since we have already met that deductible.
On the bright side, the kids weren't with us when the van broke down, and we already had our other vehicle in town (can you imagine what a nightmare it would have been with kids, and then needing to get our other vehicle had it been at home, 30 miles from town. yikes! good timing God! - no pun intended).
And God, Thank you (as I mumble "bah hum bug" under my breath) for another opportunity for you to Provide, and show how You love us.We're counting on You again!
Finally, thank you to all of you who prayed for me! I did it, I played the guitar at church! I have a greater respect and admiration for the folks that get up there and lead both instrumentally and vocally each week. It's not easy.
I'm especially GRATEFUL for the individuals that lead with me-
Ross- who coached me through it saying, "just breath, you can do this, take your time" (i was SO nervous, so out of my comfortable element).
Susan- who whispered to me, "they're singing, your doing fine, they're singing (that was somewhere in the middle of song 3, when I was shaking so much I feared I would have what would appear to be an epileptic seizure).
Jeff- who had tears in his eyes, but don't tell him I told you, cause "grown men don't cry."
If your going to step out of your comfort zone, into something you've longed to do, but don't know if your capable of, make sure your surrounded by people who LOVE you, have your back, and want you to fly! Make sure your with people who want to fly with you.
Playing guitar was a blessing, but soaring with these individuals was a greater blessing!
Advent day 3- Drink hot cocoa with 22 mini-marsmallows (that's how many days there were till Christmas), make advent chains, and fill in a Christmas activity book. Scripture- Matthew 3: 13-17
Advent day 4- Slumber Party by the Christmas tree! Scripture- II Corinthians 5:17-18
The kids thought I was taking pix of them jumping on the couches, but I was videoing them and all their goofiness.
Advent day 5 (today)-Spend the day with Nana n' Gramps! Scripture- I John 1: 5-22
Today's advent activity gives the kids time to make memories with their grandparents (they'll be doing some Christmas decorating up at the lake house), and gives Michael and I a much needed break! I can't remember the last time we really looked at each other, or talked. I miss him. So a little unfinished Christmas shopping, dinner (with a gift-card), looking at each other, talking and/or enjoying the silent togehter, topped off by the movie "The Blind Side" is our childless plan for today!
And here is a little prayer request for me- I'm leading worship tomorrow at church. I have lead worship a zillion times vocally, BUT this time I'm leading instrumentally too. I'm playing guitar! I need prayer for my nerves (Yes, even I get stage fright) to be settled, to have confidence that I can do it, and that I will glorify, and honor God in this offering of praise. THANKS!
Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See the darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears upon you. Isaiah 60:1-2
Advent activity Day 2- "Go to the Cool Bean Cafe for peppermint hot chocolate, and play Christmas Speed Scrabble!"
If you are ever in our neck of the woods (Oakhurst, Ca. If you visit Yosemite National Park, you'll likely drive through our neck of the woods, "The Gateway to Yosemite" to get there) and your wanting a GREAT cup of java, make sure you stop by the Cool Bean Cafe.
The Cool Bean Cafe is owned by the sweetest newlywed couple EVER! You will be BLESSED by their inviting personalities, and their love and desire for this community. In addition they offer DELICIOUS fair trade coffee(the Gingersnap Latte is my personal favorite).
And are you asking, "what is Speed Scrabble?" It is the funnest (it's a word) game EVER! What you need: Scrabble pieces from 2 or more games (i place a matching mark on the back of set pieces, so i can return them to the original Scrabble game as needed). How to play: Dump Scrabble pieces on table, flip them with letters facing down Each player takes 7 pieces Flip pieces and create a crossword puzzle with all the letters The first player to use all pieces says, "take 2." All players grab 2 letters from the pile, and continue to build the cross word puzzle. This process continues until the pile is depleted. When the last player has successfully built their crossword puzzle using all the pieces, and their are no more pieces on the table to be taken, he/she counts down to 10, allowing the remainder of the players to time to try to complete their crossword puzzle. When the counting is over the game is over. DO NOT UNDO YOUR CROSSWORD PUZZLE! Players count their points by counting the numbers on Scrabble pieces. Letters that are used in multiple words get multiple points. Unused Scrabble pieces count against the points you accumulated. The player to go out first automatically gets 50 points added to their points. The player with the most points is the winner! For Christmas Speed Scrabble we made a rule that each player with any Christmas word, received an additional 50 points for each word!
The kids and I enjoyed our time together, away from homeschool (shhhh, don't tell them they were working on their spelling as we played) and our normal responsibilities. We enjoyed sipping on cocoa and playing together.
"God loves a cheerful giver," are words spoken often in our house. i think it is important to cultivate a spirit of giving in our children, and in each other.
typically when one thinks of giving they immediately consider their wallets, but in all honesty our wallets are pretty bare. because of this we have looked for creative ways to give over the years. i hope that regardless of how empty or full our wallets are we will always seek creative ways to give.
a creative way to give to the community:
free hot chocolate stand- for 5 years we have served free hot chocolate to our community.first, we get permission from a local small business, and use of an outlet. next, we set up a table complete with 2 large coffee pots (we borrow these from our church) filled with hot chocolate (enoughfor 160 cups), toppings of whipped cream, and marshmallows, and add a candy cane. then, we put the kids to work, inviting passers by to receive their free hot chocolate.for an individual or family:
the 12 days of christmas- we have had the opportunity over the years to surprise families in need of christmas blessings on the 12 days before christmas.
first, choose a family that needs to blessed! may be a family new to the community, a family facing financial difficulty, or a family struggling with health. there are many who need a bit of light to shine on them and their circumstances. many who need tangible love from their community (or even strangers) poured on them.
next, find 12 families (including yourself) to be gift givers for the 12 days leading up to christmas.assign a day to each family, give a gift tag to accompany their gift, and directions to the recipients house.
then, deliver gifts! gift deliveries are top secret. deliver early a.m. or in the p.m., be creative in your deliveries, send someone dressed as santa, or in camouflage. this is the one time a year it is okay to doorbell ditch (accept don't ring the doorbell)!finally, with the last gift delivered on christmas, send a card with everyone's names, wishing them a very merry christmas!this years gift tags have a #1-12 on one side, with this saying on the other.for family:
with as many as 7 families filling the jones house, and a grand total of 23 family members, well, that is a lot of gifts! we decided to get creative to find a way to blesss family members. how do we do it? breakfast in bed!
on christmas eve. morning families are served breakfast in bed. the night before we leave a door hanger on each door (just as you would find in a hotel), asking family members to tell us the time they'd like their meal delivered, beverage choices, and other special instructions.
on christmas eve. morning we wake early and get to work. michael does most of the cooking, while i serve as assistant. we ready the meal, ready the trays, add a special note accompanied by the christmas story of jesus' birth, then deliver the breakfast trays.
A few years ago I was given an advent box as a gift. The box has 25 smaller boxes to fill. Honestly, I wasn't thrilled about the responsibility that had been given to me. I Immediately felt overwhelmed at the duty of filling each of those little boxes with Christmas treasures.But the box has surprised me. Instead of filling it with store bought treasures I realized I could fill each box with an activity for each day. Because of this box the time of advent (which means "coming" or "expecting") has become the richest month of the year. I have found myself more intentional about the kids, being in their world, creating along side them, participating in their wonder and their giggles, making memories with them.
My goal for December is to share with you the activity planned for each day leading up to Christmas. In addition there will be daily scripture reading (thanks Kristen who suggested this, and shared her list).
The activities vary from drinking a cup of hot cocoa filled with 25 marshmallows (the days there are until Christmas) to havingaFree Hot Cocoastand.
Today's activity was to paint a Christmas tree on the sliding glass window (I am o.c.d., so the kids were surprised that the daily windexed window was going to be covered in paint!) The kids also made 25 ornaments from construction paper.
We discussed the meaning of advent, that the Savior had come to our world, to be with us, to be born in us, to be living in each of us.
For the next 25 days of advent we will add one of the handmade ornaments to the painted tree. The ornament will have the name of someone we love, who we will pray for. We will pray that Jesus will be born in them, that He will be their Savior, and live fully in and through them.
I hope you enjoy the next 25 days of advent with us!
What does your family do to celebrate advent? (Scripture reading Isaiah 40: 1-11)
Nov 1. - thankful for God's grace. i need it. Nov.2 - my girls playing together so sweetly. Nov. 3 - noah's good hugs, and thinking the same thing.
Nov. 4- sleep
Nov. 5- portland, or. beautiful fall colors, and time with kristen (idaho mom)
Nov. 6- God, and that he made us each unique and wonder-full (the german and mexican couch surfers, glen, the batoligists, a witty arizonian man named corvin, and his sweet/tolerant wife). Nov.7 -kristen, wading through portland, gondola ride, and Disneyland in my mouth (the melting pot). Nov. 8- my hungry Spirit and Bob. Nov. 9- my awesome family, i LOVE coming home to them!! Nov 10- Chocolate Milk Tuesday and Spinner's spin on it. Nov 11- being plugged in with my guitar at praise team practice! ahhhhh!! Nov 12- that God loves my neighbors. Nov 13- cherry pajamas, "color me mine," and memories made with sylvia, maddie, emilie, and josie. Nov 14 -quiet Nov 15 - i "threw up" and now i feel better. and i hugged a falcon (a ford falcon) a perfect way to finish my 35th year! Nov. 16- Birthday breakfast for dinner! Discovering that i'm the whole package (of candles that is). Nov. 17- surprise packages in the mail, and overcoming my fear of changing the guitar strings. Nov. 18- coffee and reading thomas merton with michael. Nov. 19- it's a GIRL, i'm going to be an auntie! Nov. 20-good food, good worship, good people. Nov. 21- Fall colors Nov. 22- singing with Sylvia. that God changes the score to- Life 1, Death 0. Nov 23- my funny gangsta rapping kids. Nov 24- kristen's cookies for lunch (sshhh! don't tell anyone). Nov 25- property taxes are payed Nov 26- good stuffing. vava crocheting emilie's table cloth. Nov 27- aunt vicki's strength and grace Nov 28- a christmas tree, plus a fridge and cupboards full of groceries. Nov 29- Psalm 23- he provides, leads,breathes into me, is with me, tells me who i am, protects, gives freedom, chases me with his love, is my home. Nov 30- my home that is filled with laughter, giggles, peace, kindness, and love. i am BLESSED!
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
some of my favorite worshipers- entering His courts with praise.
I was tired, and ready to settle into my seat and the last chapters of my book when I walked down the isle of the Alaska Airline plane, looking for seat 11B. Another woman had mistaken her seat for mine, so I agreed to take her seat one row back.
I didn't want to talk, to be friendly, to make conversation. I wanted quiet (are you surprised that i like quiet?). And then Bob sat next to me.
We introduced ourselves, quickly bypassing the awkwardness of being strangers.
Bob asked what I was reading. I shared that I was readingA Million Miles In a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. I told Bob that Miller was an author who shared thoughts on Christianity. I came out of the Christian closet, and briefly let Bob know that I love Jesus. I shared a bit about the book, that it is about living a story, living intentionally. Miller says, "that living a life without a story is like reading a book about nothing." I told Bob that I wanted to start living a better story.
I didn't shove Jesus down his throat. I try not to do that anymore. People don't want Jesus shoved down their throats.
Bob shared a bit about his family, his job, a little about his story.
Now that small talk was over I had hoped to settle into my seat, read, close my eyes, but I couldn't. My Spirit was hungry (you can think i'm crazy. i thought it was wonderful and crazy). The Spirit was in my belly . The Spirit was growling, hungry, wanting more from Bob (i could literally feel this happening).
So our conversation continued. I discovered that Bob loves Jesus too. He hadn't shared that yet, he hadn't come out of the Christian closet. I liked that. Bob shared more of his story, he let me read chapters of his life where the pages were filled with disaster. He had been a pastor, had become addicted to pornography, had been removed from ministry, had almost destroyed his family, his life.
but God. (i think "but God" is the most beautiful sentence by the way. those two words can say everything).
God has rescued, redeemed, restored, and is rewriting (writing again) Bob's life... and Bob is BEAUTIFUL.
I can't recall most of what Bob said, but I remember his face, and the Spirit alive in him. My Spirit was hungry for his Spirit. The Jesus in me had to sit with, meet with, cry with, rejoice with, the Jesus in him. Because of the story he had lived, and the story he was now living Bob was radiant! His words, face, person, were radiant with humility, compassion, tenderness, grace, glory, love.
As Bob shared I recalled a scripture a friend had shared with me a few days earlier. "When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, He was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord." Exodus 34:29
I shared the scripture with Bob. I told him that like Moses, he was not aware that he was RADIANT!
When Bob got off the plane (he was on his way to his father's memorial service), I just sat there in quiet tears, absorbing the place my soul was in.
The woman in my assigned seat got up from her seat, and said, "it looks like you two were meant to sit together," and then she asked for prayer for her 6 month old grandson she was on her way to take to the hospital.
Bob said, "good bye" again, and began to exit the plane. And I sat there in seat 12A, staring out the window, into the next chapter of my story that waited for me outside. I sat there not yet, ready to turn the page on this short chapter. "God, I'm going to miss Bob." And He replied, "it is the Jesus in you that will miss the Jesus in him."
"When I look at you it is as if I am in the presence of Christ... It is the Christ in you who recognizes the Christ in me...Yes, He indeed is in our midst.. and from now on, wherever you go, or I go, all the ground between us will be holy ground." Henry Nowen
on our last day in portland, kristen nora (the video will explain why) and i (rachel) took in the saturday market, a bit of wading (it was RAINY), a gondola ride, and dinner at the melting pot. btw- there is video footage i haven't shared from our trip- me discovering kristen doesn't like pesto! who doesn't like pesto? and did you know she makes, likes, and feed hers family tater-tot casserole! the video footage i didn't share (to cut down on lengthier videos) is of me asking random people (of course) if they would eat tater-tot casserole. ICK! so tell me would you (ingredients: hamburger, tater-tots, corn, cheeses, and cream of potato barf soup)? and do you LOVE pesto?
"Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same."
this video makes me laugh and smile.
kristen and i had no idea that our little adventure to portland would lead us to meet some interesting and wonderful people! this adventure caused me to be in awe of God, of how He creates people. scripture says we are all made in the "image of God." there are so many sides, layers, colors, fragrances, tastes, personalities... to God, all displayed in people. each person like a portrait, painting, book, movie, song, waiting to be discovered. God waiting to be discovered.
i envy God, He KNOWS each one of us. He knows home-schooling mommies, "know it alls" from arizona, and their sweet wives, dad's from miami, couch surfersfrom mexico and canada, and batalogists who say "app uh lach in."
Oh how i would love to sit with God, and have him tell me each of their stories. I'd watch His face light up as our Father told me about each of His children. He would get out His wallet and show me pictures of the "know it all" and his wife from Arizona, He would show me how beautiful His children are. He would tell me about bats (shiver). He would be enthusiastic to share every detail (shiver). He'd tell me how cool batologists are, and how He delights in seeing His children be passionate about His creation. He would tell me about glen- quiet, thoughtful glen. And He would tell me about mexico, germany, and couch surfing, and how it pleases Him to watch his children embrace new cultures, new people, new experiences.
Hearing him, and watching Him, tell me about His children and how He loves them, would cause me to love him more, and to better grasp how He knows and loves me.
part of being the baby in the family is coming to terms with the fact that most of what you wear is going to be a hand-me-down.
thankfully i'm a first born, so i never had to wear last seasons out dated polo shirt or previously pegged jeans. my sister was just 17 months behind me, and she was cursed with wearing everything i'd outgrown. though her favorite color was pink, she was typically stuck wearing my favorite color from last year- which was usually lavender. until jr. high that is when i had a love for everything florescent. these jeans were hand-me-overs (clothing handed down by someone outside our family) for josie. when we received them they were "singing God's praises" in the knees- "holy, holy, holy." josie and i put our thinking caps on, and came up with a plan to give them new life.
josie requested leaves to cover the holes. i ironed them on with wonder-under, then stitched around them with embroidery thread (i used two shades of pink). material was added to the pockets with more wonder- under (love the stuff), and iron-onric-racwas added on top of that to frame it.
i think they turned out darling!
after seeing the finished product josie went through her sister's old clothes and happily discovered another pair of holy jeans. she is planning her design, and is ready to put me to work revamping her hand-me-downs.
after the kids were dressed up in their halloween best, we loaded them up and took them to a local church to "trunk or treat." before exiting the van, we had a very important discussion with the kids... me: okay, here we are. now this is your one chance a year to earn your keep. emilie: what does that mean? michael: to provide for the family the kids were puzzled. me: some people say that a man provides for his family by bringing home the bacon. emilie: but daddy doesn't bring home bacon. noah & josie: we like bacon, i want daddy to bring home bacon! michael: bacon means money, and this is your chance to bring home the bacon. josie: i thought we were getting candy? me:you are getting candy, and chocolate is bacon. now provide for the family kids, mommy needs CHOCOLATE!
don't tell me you have never eaten a booger. i would guess 99.9% of the world has sampled their boogers. i recall a boy in my 4th grade classwho really enjoyed his boogers. now he is 36, balding, drives a fancy car, and has a fancy job (i wonder if hair loss is a result of excessive booger consumption).
as you see from the video above we visited the jelly belly factory. if you live in cali. i recommend you take a detour and head over to the jelly belly factory and go on their 40 min. tour! it was Su.Weeeet.! literally.at the end of the tour there was a sample bar, with unlimited j.b. samples (you should have seen my kids eyes when they were told unlimited amounts of candy was available... you should have seen the "no it's not" look i gave them in return). j.b. has some delicious flavors, but they also have some new flavors, "beanboozled." these flavors involve trickery- discovering your chocolate was replaced by dog food, your coconut for baby wipe, your peach for vomit, and your pear for booger. and that, that is how i ate a booger (yesterday anyway).with us on our tour my grandmother "vava," and my aunt vera.
as well as visiting the jelly belly factory we visited my dad. my dad lives in a state hospital. he is paranoid schizophrenic. you'd think that going to a state hospital would be the polar opposite of going to a candy factory. it could be. you'd expect it to be. but it wasn't it. it too was filled with sweetness. sweetness as i watched my g-ma feed her son all his favorite portuguese foods. the way to his heart is though his mother's cooking, and she needed to love him that way. he needed to be loved that way. sweetness was having his sister, my aunt, see him again for the first time in 12 years. my family tends to ignore his existence (i know it's not intentional, it hurts too much, the loss of their only brother, first to drugs, and now to mental illness). but it meant a lot to me, and i know it meant a lot to him. sweetness came in conversations between him and his grandchildren. in talking about favorite colors, favorite foods, go-cart crashes, and how tall the grand-kids have gotten. sweetness overwhelmed not just my taste-buds, but my other senses as my dad hugged each of his grandchildren and said to each of them, "i love you emilie, i love you noah, i love you josefine." i want that. i want them to be loved by my dad. i want him to be loved by my children, his grandchildren. sweetness came in my own embrace, nestling for a moment into him, my dad. and finally sweetness came as we left. he went through the doors of confinement,where he was searched by the guards, and we walked out the other door into freedom. there we waited, waited for him to turn around to see us not wanting to leave, wanting to wave goodbye one last time, wanting to take every moment given to us to soak him up. to us he isn't a patient or a criminal- he is a son, a brother, a grandpa...my dad. he saw us waiting, waved goodbye, and looked at me, and said "i love you." (tears)
in many ways i have been "beanboozled," i received booger, vomit, dog food... instead of the sweetness i should have had in a dad. and it hurts. it hurts everyday. i mourn and miss the dad i should have had (tears). i mourn the life he should have had.
and i hate satan.
but i love God. i love God because through His grace alone i have mercy for my dad (for a man who has been awful, hurtful, abandoning me, denying me as his daughter, torturing me with lies) but i really LOVE him. and i see him. who he is, under the illness. and i long for him.
and because of this, i see how God loves us, sees who we really are under our brokenness, and longs for us.
I'm Denise Jones~ Michael's wife, Noah, Emilie, and Josie's mommy.
Jesus knows me this I love.
Praise is who I am, praise is what I do.
I love words: written, spoken, sung, lived.
I have a love/hate relationship with homeschooling.
I value time spent with a good friend.
I go nowhere without my lipstick!
"By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us- set us right with him, make us fit for him- we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all; We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his doors to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand- out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting praise."
"Even in childhood was implanted within me a trace of that mysterious unity from which I was derived" St. Augustine Everybody has to change or they expire. Everybody has to leave, leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons. I want to keep my soul fertile for the changes, so things keep getting born in me, so things keep dying when it is time for things to die. I want to keep walking away from the person I was a moment ago. Only a good story has a character that's different at the end than it was in the beginning. Through Painted Deserts - Donald Miller
"Our whole life was only given to us to advance us by great strides toward our heavenly country." Lancelot Andrews
"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life - and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him."