To Read on the Journey

Thursday, December 18, 2014


How to...

First, swap the furniture in your family & dining rooms.

I know, you're the O.C.D. type-
requiring  that there always "be a place for everything and everything in it's place"...

"It's the most wonderful time of the year"... 
"and hearts will be glowing when loved ones are near." 
So do it...
glowing hearts are pretty awesome.    

Next, set out the mismatched Christmas dishes you've been gifted/collecting for 18 years, Great Gram's Christmas place-mats & napkins, and deck the tables for a very merry feast. 

  Now, open the doors of your home AND your lives to your high schoolers' friends. 
(Who cause you to not-so-secretly wish you could go back to high school again so you could have the GREATEST FRIENDS EVER!  
And who also cause you to thank God profusely for thinking up
AND making such fantastic people). 
Invite them to play "reindeer games," like  20 50 Guess-Who-Questions  (because it'll take a Christmas miracle for them to figure out who "Olive, the other reindeer is"),   

and Christmas Pictionary.
Maddy's holly, jolly drawing of Santa (bottom right) was the favorite of the night. 
 Rudolph wasn't invited to join in on our reindeer games either... 
we had a more delicious plan in mind for him and his shiny red-nose.
 Gingerbread Rudolph Pancakes!!   

"Stoke the fire" (on the t.v.) then surprise your guests with a Christmas treat!
Give thanks for 
"faithful friends who are dear to us...gathered near to us."

and for Rudolph's antlers, which are made of bacon...


After supper, retire to the makeshift home theater for this... 


"Have yourself a merry little Christmas, now" 
Live in Peace!

Friday, December 5, 2014

All the Good Things

We celebrated Thanksgiving in SLO with family, then came home Saturday to the house already decorated for Christmas, which was Oh. So. Nice.

I have been a die-hard NEVER-DECORATE-BEFORE-THANKSGIVINGER.  I've also been adamant that we NOT listen to Christmas music until the day after the bird and the Thanks were served, but this year I caved. And I'm not feeling an ounce of guilt. In fact, I'm certain I'll be caving from here on out.

Enjoy this silly stop-motion video of us decorating the tree my girls created. 

Decorating the Christmas Tree from Emilie Jones on Vimeo.

You may have noticed Noah missing from the clip. While we were decking the halls, Noah was away checking out Azusa Pacific University. And that's all I have to say about that, because my baby...and college...and I can't.

Anyhow, with Christmas festivities already kicked into high gear around here, I feel the need to press rewind and take note of the thanks my heart overflowed with Thanksgiving 2014.

I'm really so thankful for how my family loves each other. This a cool place to live (as seen by the video ;) ), and it's because of the people I get to live with. 

Take Josie for example, she shows us all love by the way she is glad to serve us.  Jo always considers others better than herself (gets that from her daddy). For instance, this kid will slave away in the kitchen preparing a meal, and when it's done, demands we all serve ourselves before she is served. What?!? She's 12! And this is just one tiny example, this type of selflessness and thoughtfulness carries over into everything Josie is and does. 
Now, Emilie's love language is words (she gets that from her mama). She is so good at building each of us up.  She tells me I'm amazing and that I'm her best friend and that she is so proud of who I am and who Jesus is in me.  I tell her I'm a mess, and she tells me she's glad I'm a mess, and she likes seeing God put me together. I haven't even told you the ways she speaks to everyone else around here, but I know I speak for everyone when I say Emilie can never ever move away from us.

Noah loves us with affection, and seems to know just when to hold one of us in his strong, safe arms.  I like that he's taller than me.  I like resting my head on his shoulder. I like that he smells like old spice- like a younger version of my grandfather.  And I like that it doesn't matter if we were in an ugly space earlier (because ugly happens quiet a bit with Noah and I- the first born/know-it-alls), he always, always, always has affection to give.

And Michael, he delights in loving and giving himself up for each one of us- especially me.  Ephesians 5:25 says "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy..."  I often think of when Michael and I first started dating, and a man who knew us both gave Michael this advice, "Love her.  Denise just needs to be loved."  Michael listened, really listened to that advice, and has done just that ever since.

This love- the value we show each other, the words we speak, the being embraced unconditionally, the delighting in giving yourself up for someone else's well-being  -this love that I receive and live in with my family is a floodlight of who God is.

 "We know how much God loves us because we have felt his love 
and because we believe him when he tells us that he loves us dearly.  
God is love, and anyone who lives in love is living with God 
and God is living in him.
 1 John 4:16 

This season I'm especially thankful for one more thing, and that is some words I read months ago; words that continue to transform my way of thinking for the better-

"The LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless." Psalm 84:11

"But how is this true when God often withholds riches, and honors, and health of body from men though they walk every so uprightly? We may therefore know that riches and honors and bodily strength are none of God's good things, and the good things of God are chiefly; peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Spirit, fruition of God's presence, and a vision of His face in the next.  These good things God never withholds from the godly." 

Sir Richard Baker

You see, I've been angry at God for years, for from my perception, withholding what I THOUGHT were good things: money, status, and health from me. I've also been inwardly bitter towards others who have these things.


God's good things are: Peace, Joy that comes from His Spirit, the LORD'S presence in our lives, and the assurance that we will be with Him for eternity!


And I am beeeyyoooonnnd thankful to be free from that nasty way of thinking because it was exhausting and maddening and sickening. Being mad at God, and feeling envy and bitterness towards people who I oughta love, caused me to be legitimately crazy- like crying in my closet for days on end cray-zay!  And now I'm free from that! {insert happy dance}
Emilie has commented a number of times that "we are so rich!"   And she's right, we are.  Our bank account, the 4 jobs we juggle, the kitchen island serving as an entertainment center for our t.v., and my health records would certainly tell you otherwise... but our lives aren't measured by any of that. 

Our lives are measured by the love that we lavish on each other.  
And by the life we have in Christ...
and we're rolling in that, too!

Live in Peace!

When do you decorate for Christmas?

What were you especially thankful for Thanksgiving 2014?