Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 in Review

Here's a sampling of favorite blog posts (or life changing lessons) through the year:

Stop and Lick the Beaters

Reflections on Peace

Children Learn What They See...

Double bonus!
Mixed Feelings
Farewell Four

Lincoln Half Marathon

Terror: Tantrum or Trust?

My Story

"Back"-to-school double feature!
New Clothes
Dayna's First Day of School

The Power of a Moment


From the Heart of a Child

The Maker of Noses

Of Pots and Potters

“Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds among the potsherds on the ground. Does the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you making?’ Does your work say, ‘The potter has no hands’?" Isaiah 45:9

I was asked a few months ago what song I would sing to the Lord, and I realized that I've lost my song. The last few months have been difficult, and if I'm honest with myself, I can see some depression creeping back into my life. How sad that a lifelong musician has lost her song. So, I've really been thinking about this and praying lately.

In my last Bible Study before the Christmas break, my teaching leader was sharing about potters and clay. Did you know that when pottery is being fired, the potter will take it from the kiln and give it a good thump. If the pot is ready, it will sing. If not, it just thuds, and back into the fire it goes. So, I guess God has been thumping me lately, checking my attitudes and seeing if I will sing. Alas, I just keep thudding, and God continues to put me through the fire and refining me some more.

Now, this isn't a perfect analogy, and I don't want to give the impression that I think God is punishing me for my attitude by continuing to put me in the fire of various trials. But I do think there's something to be said for God continuing to refine me until my will (and attitude) come into alignment with His.

I'm walking through an incredibly fiery trial right now. I honestly don't know how it will end, but it could have potentially devastating repercussions for my family. I'm learning, and I'm facing my consequences...but most importantly, I think I'm learning to sing again.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Maker of Noses

There's an old Rich Mullins song called "The Maker of Noses." The refrain goes:

They said boy you just follow your heart
But my heart just led me into my chest
They said follow your nose
But the direction changed every time I went and turned my head
And they said boy you just follow your dreams
But my dreams were only misty notions
But the Father of hearts and the Maker of noses
And the Giver of dreams He's the one I have chosen
And I will follow Him

Well, Dayna's been preoccupied with her nose lately. Despite the fact that one out of every five people in the world is of Chinese descent, she is the ONLY one in the fair city of Ashland. Many of her classmates have been discussing her nose lately, which is making her very self conscious. She asks why she is the only person with a "squishy" nose while all of her friends (and her parents, I might add) have "pointy" noses. She tells me that she loves her nose, but she's tired of people talking about it and being different.

Today, we had a play date with some friends (both boys are Chinese and cleft-affected.) From there, we all went to McDonald's and met up with two other families and let the kids play at the play area. There were seven Chinese children running around and having a great time.

On the way home, Dayna assured me that she loved getting to play with other kids who also have "squishy" noses today.

I pray that she will continue to embrace every part of who she is, and that she would know that God knit each one of us together perfectly...whether our noses are squishy or pointy.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


A few years back, I made it a summer goal to only read Nebraska authors. I quickly fell in love with Bess Streeter Aldrich's "A Lantern In Her Hands." One of the things that really spoke to me in that book was how the protagonist, Abbie Deal, leaves her family in Iowa with the promise to return. Her new husband takes her to Nebraska, where life happens and she never is able to return to her family in Iowa. As a transplant myself, I find myself so blessed by current technologies like email, social networking and Skype that keep me connected to my family. However, Abbie didn't have these luxuries. She must have been homesick indeed. Now, I know that she is a fictional character, but isn't that very typical of many pioneer women who left everything familiar to follow the westward call with their husbands?

Well, it hit me this Christmas that life kind of took a similar turn for Mary. She was living her life, presumably still under the shelter of her parents' home in Nazareth when Joseph was summoned to Bethlehem to obey Caesar's edict regarding the census. Certainly, the baby wouldn't be born while she was gone. I imagine her reassuring her parents, "We'll be back before it's the baby's time. Don't worry about us. Joseph will take care of me." Well, we all know the story didn't quite turn out that way. Was Mary caught off guard when they entered the crowded city and she had no place to rest from the piercing contractions? Did she notice the stench of the animals in the stable cave where the Messiah made His earthly entrance into the world?

We know from Luke 2:21 that they must have traveled from Bethlehem to Jerusalem after the birth of Christ, because He was presented in the temple on His eighth day to be circumcised. In Matthew 2, the Magi appear from the East. Tradition tells us that the Christ child was probably just past toddlerhood when they arrived. So, here are Mary, Joseph and Jesus, now staying in a house in Bethlehem (Matt. 2:11). I imagine the accommodations were nicer than the stable, and Mary must have enjoyed establishing her small household. But shortly after this visit, Joseph was warned in a dream to flee to Egypt (Matt. 2:13). The holy family stayed in Egypt until the death of Herod, when they finally returned to Nazareth. I don't know how long this would have been, but Luke 2:41 tells us that Jesus' parents took Him every year to Jerusalem during Passover.

Still, can you imagine the stories that Mary had for her mom when they finally returned? She was storing so much inside her heart...the birth of her first child in, shall we say, unusual circumstances; the visits from the shepherds; gifts from the Magi; fleeing to another country from a murderous official. I'm not sure how much time passed, but this seems to be more like years than weeks.

I wonder what Mary would have done if she would have been able to pick up a phone and pour these things out to her mom. Certainly the birth of Jesus was lifechanging for her. I had never considered all that happened after she told her parents goodbye on her way to the census.

I guess my occasional bouts of homesickness just don't compare...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Family Tree of Thanksgiving

Nothing like waiting until Christmas Eve to put up pictures of my Thanksgiving Tree! I guess that's the busy-ness that is my life right now.

We started this tradition last year, where on Thanksgiving Day, we take some time to write some of our blessings on a leaf and add them to a tree. (I'm thankful that I bought this ginormous tree bulletin board kit for my classroom about ten years ago and haven't used it since!)


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Our Own "Gift of the Magi" Story

Twelve years ago, a tradition was born out of desperation. For our wedding, a friend bought us an angel food cake pan and box of cake mix. A few months later, Dan's first birthday came...two days before payday. We were poor. I literally had $.69 in change (from the laundry money...we lived in an apartment and had to pay for our laundry.) I figured we had a cake pan and cake mix, and angel food was Dan's favorite.

Imagine my surprise when I came home from work and discovered the mix was for a spice cake. So there I sat, with $.69 to my name, and nothing to make for Dan. I pulled out a cookbook (another wedding present) and found a recipe for angel food cake. The only thing we didn't have was a dozen eggs. So, I said a prayer, took a deep breath, and prayed for a miracle. (Okay...I prayed that there would be a significant sale on cake mixes.)

In true O'Henry fashion, I took my $.69 to the grocery store. To my dismay, there were NO sales on cake mixes. But...I could buy a dozen eggs for $.66.

That night, I made an angel food cake from scratch. Hands down, the best cake I have ever made. Dan took one bite, sighed in ecstasy, and informed me that I could make this cake every year for his birthday.

So, for the twelfth straight year, I've got a homemade angel food cake in the oven. The timer should beep any minute now.

Happy birthday, Dan!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sick Day

A friend told me once that she actually looked forward to the days when her kids were sick and SHE got to stay home from school...not the throwing up, high maintenance kind of sick; just the extra TLC kind of sick.

I got to enjoy that kind of day today. Dayna's been down most of the week with a nasty viral infection. Yup...that was the official diagnosis from the Urgent Care center Tuesday night (day 3 of high fever and sore throat.) But, because I had programs this week, I couldn't be gone. So Dan stayed with her early this week. Today marks the official end of the fever and sore throat, so Dayna can go back to school tomorrow. In the meantime, I had a lovely day home with her.

I FINALLY got the living room cleaned (two weeks later) from the Christmas boxes. Now I can enjoy my tree! I got 2 more kinds of cookies baked, over half of my 2nd quarter grades in the computer, a dress cut out for Dayna's Christmas present, and various and sundry other items off my to-do list.

Dayna and I have had some nice conversations, and she's getting out of the tub now and ready for some snuggles in bed with a little more reading from "Farmer Boy." (It's taken 5+ weeks and we're only halfway through! I never realized Laura Ingalls Wilder was so verbose!)

I'm glad she's feeling better, but I'm even more excited to have had an unexpected productive day at home.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

New Traditions

I confess, I completely stole this idea from my friend Joy, who lives in Oklahoma (but since she doesn't cheer for the Sooners, she's okay in my book!)

We took Dayna to Paint Yourself Silly today, where she painted the first in a series of Christmas plates. We'll take her back each year to do another one. When she's old enough to go out on her own, she will have her own set of Christmas plates and a whole passel of memories to go with them.

Today's design was a large ladybug surrounded by holly leaves and berries. Unfortunately, we had no camera today, so I'll have to post a picture of the final product when we pick it up in a week or so.

Dan and I also painted a little cookie plate together. We had meant to do this 2 1/2 years ago for our 9th anniversary, but just got around to it today. Isn't that the way it goes sometimes?

So, thanks for the idea, Joy! We can't wait to see how this tradition unfolds.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas Shopping and Lessons Learned

I went out with Dayna the other night for some "girl time." She wanted to eat at "M for Mommy's." So I pull off the Interstate and we go inside. There was a father and son in line in front of us waiting for their food. 10 minutes later, there were 8 more people behind us, the line hadn't moved, and nobody had so much as come up to the counter. The employees were in back yelling at each other. Dayna told me that she really didn't want to wait, so we could go somewhere else.

Good thing there's more than one "M for Mommy" in Omaha. So, after a quick trip to the craft store, we go into another one. This time, we were served immediately, but the restaurant was so crowded it took 20 minutes to get our food. They were absolutely slammed! But, the employees were working as hard as they could, and they were working together, so it didn't really bother me all that much. When we were done eating (our two experiences to get a fast food meal took over an hour!) I looked around the lobby. There were no clean tables, the trash cans were overflowing, and one table had a big chocolate milk spill underneath. I knew they were slammed behind the counter, and no one had a chance to clean up the dining area. So, before we left, I asked the manager for a dishcloth. I couldn't take care of the garbages, but I was able to quickly wipe down all the tables. I don't think the manager quite knew what to do with that, but it was definitely eye opening for Dayna. When she asked why I would do a thing like that, I told her, "because it's the right thing to do." It didn't cost me anything, but provided a small act of service to others and spoke a very loud message to Dayna.

From there, we went to the toy store to pick out a gift for her cousin (from all of us) and her dad (from her). She has really been excited about doing something for her dad this year. I told her that this year, she has to pay half for the gifts she buys. So, she brings her little glass jar labeled "SPEND." When we get to the checkstand (it was also a crowded night at the toy store!), Dayna stopped the line to count her quarters. I looked up at the cashier with an apology, but before I could get it out, the cashier said, "This is the best thing I've seen all night! I wish all parents would teach their kids about money!" The people behind me in line likewise seemed to have no problem waiting a little bit longer so a five-year-old could learn the value of saving and giving.

What set out to be a fun evening with my daughter turned out to be an evening filled with little lessons that will make a big impact on her life.