Monday, December 31, 2012

Family Fun in the Snow

 Christmas morning dawned brilliant and clear, the first clear day in weeks. 
 It was spectacular.  
We drove over to Nanny and Papa's house.
.literally over the meadow and through the woods, 
then around the lake and up the hill. 





After a wonderful dinner,
 we spent the afternoon sledding down the big hill, 
which was terrific fun, once us old folks kicked ourselves out of the warm house
 and into the snowy outdoors.  
I am glad we did, it was so much fun!



                                                   Multi-generational sledding right here.  
                                                                            smile.
What a brave Nanny!



  
The big daddy triple decker.


 
Cousin Grace and her pet weasel following Gabe and Grace down. 
It is really some sort of dog, but we like to give her a bad time.  
smile.



Convoy.




Eyes of wonder on the almost 4 yr old.



A poofy blue cloud named Olivia.  
She loved the snow and stayed out for hours.





Oh Glorious Day!



Saturday, December 22, 2012

Advent Days


It's the most wonderful time of year!
There's excitement in the air as Christmas Day draws near.  
All kinds of special events fill the calendar bringing festivity, cheer and good will.  

 Here is a look at some of the fun.


Daddy took Rose on a daddy/daughter date to see a play of Little Women. 
 Gabe and Olivia just had to be in the picture too.


Rose followed that up with a special craft with the children. 
 They had a ball making cards 
and then planning on who shall receive them.











In the spirit of the season,
 as night falls on freshly fallen snow, in what Brian called perfect weather,
 he led a group caroling to local shut ins,
 bringing good cheer (and many a tear) to warm their hearts, 
as well as a basket full of home made goodies to warm their tummies.



                        At the end of the day, twinkling lights and pine garlands decorate the lodge,
               a crackling fire and a mug of mulled cider awaits those who have been out and about. 


  All ready for bed,
 the children gather  round as Brian reads the familiar Christmas story in the Advent book,
 a story they have fairly memorized by now,
 but still has a captivating appeal.



                                             These are days filled with bits of treasures 
                                              that glow in my memory from year to year.



Friday, December 21, 2012

Embracing Advent: JOY


During the last few weeks of Advent, 
sickness and sadness,
 along with difficulty have filled not only our home, 
but many we know and love
 and many whom we don't know, but feel for them just the same.
Oh, there has been plenty of love and laughter here,
 as there always is when small children are present,
 but finding joy has been less than easy, 
in fact, it has only come by making a deliberate choice.


 Joy doesn't always come in laughter and mirth. 
 Joy isn't always dependent upon our circumstances. 
 The deep joy that comes from what Christ has done for us constantly fills our hearts, 
and sustains us through trials and difficulty. 
 I have been thinking that it was this kind of joy that upheld Mary 
through what must have been a very difficult time for her socially 
when she was carrying the baby Jesus. 
 Knowing the effusiveness that usually ascends upon women when they are pregnant, 
I can only imagine how alone, hormonal, and weary she must have been....
yet, if she kept her mind set on WHO she was about to give birth to-
 the deep joy of the Lord would have given her great comfort and strength.

  My heart breaks for those who don't know this kind of joy because they don't know
 the One
 whose presence fills one with joy.  
There are many who are hurting and alone, dealing with pain and tragedy,
 and my prayer is that they would come to KNOW 
the 
Joy-Giver, 
and find their souls delight in Him,
 even when times are rough.

These are the things we have been discussing in our home these last few weeks as we celebrate the season.
It has been a bitter sweet time:
 knowing so many are hurting and lonely,
missing our own family far and away, 
dealing with sickness and difficulty ourselves...

When I drove the van off the road into the ditch and had to be pulled out, 
I found it difficult to be joyful. 

 A brother challenged me as to whether the joy of the Lord was my strength.
At that moment, I felt pretty weak and sick to my stomach for the near miss of a tree,
 but later, as I am sometimes a rather slow learner,
(smile)
I came to see the good in it. 
 Instead of it getting me down,
 I could choose to be joyful, 
by an act of my will. 
 By focusing on Christ instead of the situation. 
 By seeing the good things..like the fact that we didn't hit the tree.



We choose joy. 
 We choose what we think about and focus on. 
 Giving thanks, and... well, giving.. 
are ways we can focus our minds into activities to lift the spirits.

Each day at dinner, we each give thanks for something as we begin our dinner.
Even during hard times there are always multiple things we can be thankful for
 if we only take time to think of them.
This has been really helpful to me, and good for the children as well.

This is the season for giving, 
and that may not always be gifts, but the best of gifts, which is, ones self.
Contrary to what comes naturally,
 putting others first and GIVING of ourselves is a most delightful and joy-filling thing to do,
 or, way to live.
Wanting to get this across to our children, and practice it ourselves,
yesterday, we spent the afternoon baking up goodies to send to loved ones
 and goody plates to give to neighbors.
Jim and I tag teamed 5 kinds of cookies, Rose helping too.
It was fun
and the thought of our neighbors sinking their teeth into 
some of the best cookies we make
 filled my heart with delight.
(feeding people is my spiritual gift...
or love language---
perhaps both.)







This holiday season, may we all take to heart 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
"Be joyful always; 
pray continually; 
 give thanks in all circumstances, 
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

Why?  Because God knows it is good for us, for our hearts.
  A joyful heart is good medicine.
Maybe  that is why we are all well and healthy now...
and carrying on with the fun and adventure of Advent celebrations with new gusto.

So this is my prayer,
That we, 
and all you dear readers,
have eyes to see the bountiful blessings that are all around us this Christmas season,
 that we then, like unwrapping the gift, 
give thanks for each one of them,
 and therefore,
 are filled with JOY and good cheer.
Then, it will truly be a very Merry Christmas indeed!



Tuesday, December 11, 2012

December Ramblings


Hello to all out there, and thank you for the many kind messages and wishes. 
 We did have the most spectacular, 
devastatingly romantic
 wedding for our daughter Anna and our new 
son in love Scott 
a few weeks ago,
 and ever since, I have been quite silent here,
 but, it may not be what you would think.

I am not suffering from "post traumatic wedding disorder", 
(smile)
although I might have over done it a little,
 causing my cold to turn bronchial, and I am just not quite over it.  
Also, Rose's camera, where all the lovely pictures you see here come from,
 has a new owner and Rose is still in the market for a new one. 
 It is so hard to journal here without her beautiful pictures.

We are so happy for Scott and Anna,
 and you will read all about it just as soon as the pictures arrive from the photographer.

Life is continuing on in a new way in our post wedding life. 
 I am not at all sure Olivia has gotten over it,
 she seems to have a bit of separation anxiety, and is still quite clingy. 
 The sweet tot just turned two a few days ago.
But, there have been ever so many wonderful things here I have so wished to share,
 alas, no camera to capture the moments....

Littles side by side on the sofa reading and looking at I SPY books, which are Olivia's new favorite.

Children cuddled up in front of the fire with mugs of cocoa or tea.

Days full of Rose baking the most yummiest of goodies

Mornings playing in the snow 

Puttering around the lodge decorating for Advent

and lots and lots of creative fun for the children
while mama is too ill to carry on much in the way of school or housework.

Soon..soon, all will be back to usual. 
 Soon the wedding pictures will be here,
 and soon, Rose will have her new camera and be taking thousands of pictures getting accustomed to it.

Until then...
May you find your soul's delight in the One who formed you and loves you best.

Blessings,
Julianne