Tuesday, December 31, 2013

1000 gifts: finishing the December challenge

Four new nutcrackers to add to my collection
I succeeded in my December challenge to add thirty one blessings to my 1000 gifts list,  one for each day.  But then again, saying "I succeeded" is a misnomer; I believe it's God that opens my eyes to see his blessings...

756.  "This is My Wish": beautiful Christmas song by Jordan Sparks

757. All six of us snuggled up on the couch watching a movie

758. Compliments from an agent on my novel
The agent "passed" on my novel, but she did give it three very nice compliments! so I am not at all discouraged.

759.  Our souls are bigger...
Dreamer told me she believes our souls are much bigger than our bodies. How big? I asked her. As big as a barn! They have to squish down to fit inside of us. I loved this idea.

760. A horsey Christmas party
B.'s roping buddies had a Christmas party and then my English riding club also had a party with a white elephant gift exchange. Many horsey-themed gifts - I actually won a really nice horse blanket!

761. Gratitude changes everything
Something that struck my heart at my O.A. meeting today: "you can get a gift, but you only really receive a gift if you receive it with gratitude"

762. Christmas tree lights in  our church window
I always drive by our church on my way home, and I love seeing the lights of the church's giant Christmas tree shining through the windows at night.

763. Singing every night before bed
With all the busyness of the Christmas season, sometimes its hard for me to feel that special Christmas magic and wonder, but one thing that really recaptures it for me is taking time each night to sing Christmas carols. I sit in the hallway between the girls' rooms and sing a couple songs to them out of my "Forty Favorite Christmas Carols" book - I handcopied these carols into this notebook when I was 14, and illustrated some of the pages too. Now almost 30 years later, this old notebook has become a great treasure to me.

764. Unexpected help wrapping presents
I always leave most of my present wrapping until last thing on Christmas Eve after the kids are in bed. B. helped me for a while, then went to bed himself. I didn't mind; I had my favorite Christmas carols playing and a beautiful Christmas tree to enjoy. But then after a half hour B. came back down and helped some more, he said he just enjoyed the time with me

765.  Animals at the table for a Christmas tea party
Mom always gives the girls stuffed animals for one of their Christmas presents; this year she had the animals all arranged at the dining room table as if they were just waiting for the girls to join them for a Christmas tea party

766. The Platters' old songs
Not Christmas music at all, but what I loved most about this Christmas was that my Dad was so happy (since being housebound, he's been so depressed this past year). It's been forever since we played any of our old favorite albums, so I was delighted when he asked me to put some of our favorites on: The Way You Look Tonight (sung by Bing Crosby), and Smoke Gets in Your Eyes (the Platters).

767. A new Christmas bookstore tradition
Last year I so enjoyed spending a couple hours at the bookstore browsing and picking out three books for Christmas, which B. then bought for me - so I asked him if we could do the same thing this year for my Christmas present. Here's the books I picked this year (he also bought be a new camera for Christmas too!)

768. Christmas mugs
I love collecting mugs, and while Christmas shopping this year I found some mugs that I really liked, so I bought them and then gave them to Blaze and Dreamer to "give" to me as Christmas presents. I mean, it's not like they are old enough to go shopping themselves for mugs for me, right? I also "gave" myself  (via the twins) a fancy dark chocolate bar and a pack of notecards with a beautiful globe on the front of the cards (I love artistic maps and globes!)

769. Christmas calendars
My mom made a beautiful calendar for B. and I, and also B.'s parents (whom we are visiting now for a late Christmas, and New Year's Eve). Each month has pictures of the girls - some pictures I've never seen before and some older pictures I'd forgotten about! And another fun calendar she showed me was a collection of Norman Rockwell paintings, some of which I'd never seen before. This painting of Santa planning his route with a big map really tickled my fancy, since I'm a map-maker and all-around map lover.

770. Come Now Our King, song by Chris August
 Bethlehem turns in tonight
A town led up by candle light
All the children tuck in tight
Bethlehem turns in tonight

The angels start their whispering
About the one they're welcoming
No one knows what's soon to be
As the angels start their whispering

They sing glory
In the highest
Come now our King
We've been waiting
Come now our King

Silence falls
Yet once again
The shepherds leave for Bethlehem
Baby's cry soon welcomes them
Silence falls yet once again

Glory, Oh glory
You came here to save
Ooh Lord, we've been waiting so
Come now our King

Now my night has turned today
An empty manger, empty grave
Baby born so I could say
Now my night has turned today

Ooh, We sing glory in the highest
Come now our King, oh ooh
We've been waiting, waiting for you
Come now our king

 771. A Hallelujah Christmas, song by Cloverton
I've always loved the original song by Leonard Cohen, but when I heard this Christmas version of the song, my love soared to new heights.

I've heard about this baby boy
Who's come to earth to bring us joy
And I just want to sing this song to you
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
With every breath I'm singing Hallelujah

A couple came to Bethlehem
Expecting child, they searched the inn
To find a place for You were coming soon
There was no room for them to stay
So in a manger filled with hay
God's only Son was born, oh Hallelujah

The shepherds left their flocks by night
To see this baby wrapped in light
A host of angels led them all to You
It was just as the angels said
You'll find Him in a manger bed
Immanuel and Savior, Hallelujah

A star shown bright up in the east
To Bethlehem, the wise men three
Came many miles and journeyed long for You
And to the place at which You were
Their frankincense and gold and myrrh
They gave to You and cried out Hallelujah

I know You came to rescue me
This baby boy would grow to be
A man and one day die for me and you
My sins would drive the nails in You
That rugged cross was my cross, too
Still every breath You drew was Hallelujah

Monday, December 23, 2013

1000 gifts: December challenge

child-like wonder
I noticed during November this year that some friends were listing things they were thankful for on each day. Such a good idea! November is NaNoWriMo craziness for me (National Novel Writing Month), but I decided to try a list like this for December. In May this year I had a record month with my 1000 Gifts list, twenty one additions to my list. Why not try for thirty one in December? I would LOVE for God to open my eyes to see a blessing every day, it brings a deeper joy to the Christmas season.

741.   Stars' adventures in Europe (Nov 30)
My stepdaughter Stars has spent the last two months in Europe, and came home the day before Thanksgiving. She stayed with a friend in Germany, and did some hosteling to London, Paris, Amsterdam, and Austria while she was there. And this is what she brought home for me from London - two of my favorite things:  a mug from across the sea, and English tea!
And this was what she wrote me, on a postcard  from Austria:

742.   prayers for healing and Luke 18:10-13, a sinner's prayer (Dec. 1)

Thanksgiving with B's sister and her husband, discovered they are both believers and had some great conversations with them.  B asked if everyone could gather around his mom, lay hands on her and pray for healing, since her cancer continues to spread. Afterwards, she told us she has been praying the tax collector's humble prayer, "Lord  have mercy on me, a sinner."

743. Finishing my book and interest from agent (Dec. 2)
I used NaNoWriMo as motivation to finish my book this year; I didn't finish until today instead of November 30 but the main thing is, I FINISHED! I have a complete book! I wrote the rough draft last year and this whole year I've been re-writing it. Seeing it all finally come together, all the pieces finally in place - I can't describe the feeling of fulfillment. Just in time too because when I submitted my first page to an online contest, an agent requested that I send her my full manuscript.

744. Help with birthday preparations (Dec 3)
Having Blaze and Dreamer home instead of in school was really nice today as they helped me decorate the house for the twins' birthday and bake over 40 cupcakes (the one disadvantage of having twins in two separate classes).  I know it's a blessing too that the twins are 7 years old now, but I'm sad
they're not my babies anymore.

745. Fairy homes in Christmas ornaments (Dec 4)
We brought up our "early tree" today (we have a fake tree that we put upstairs which I call our "early tree" because it helps us get an early, easy start with our Christmas decorations, since I don't usually have time to get a real tree until later in the month).  Dreamer says that fairies like to live inside Christmas ornaments, which I thought was a brilliant idea (might write a story about that some day).

746. Our horses playing in the backyard (Dec 5)

747.  All nighter writing/editing (Dec 6)
Last round of edits to polish the book up to send to the agent - sometimes all nighters are fun!

748. Discovering old Christmas music, new to me (Dec 7)
Pat-a-Pan, O Magnum Mysterium, Bolero drummer boy at the Christmas festival and University symphony

749. Blaze found the perfect Christmas verse (Dec 8)
Was looking for a good verse to share in my Sunday school class, and Blaze found it for me: Matt 1:21  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

750. Dreamer says there's "One undiscovered place left in the world"  (Dec 9)
 "where's that?"  "the garden of Eden"

751. Neighborhood Christmas tree store (Dec 10)

752. Kitty paws under the door (Dec 11)

753.  Blaze's new friend (Dec 12)
Been praying for another friend for her, she's missed Hailee so much since her family moved away (we've missed her too!) but so happy about new friend Olivia

754. Santa's redneck brother on the radio (Dec 13)
Makes B smile - I love his smile

755.  Singing Christmas hymns at church and an old favorite: Be Thou My Vision (Dec 14)
Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best thought by day or by night
Waking or sleeping Thy presence my light

Be thou my wisdom and Thou my true word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, I, Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling and I with Thee one

Riches I heed not nor man's empty praise
Thou mine inheritance now and always
Thou and thou only first in my heart
High King of heaven my treasure Thou are

High King of heaven my victory won
May I reach heaven's joys, O bright heaven's Sun
Heart of my own heart whatever befall
Still be my vision O Ruler of all