Thursday, December 31, 2009

Thinking back...

...on what was important for me this past year, I find that my resolution of praying for/meditating on the spiritual fruit of love tops the list.

I was very intimidated to tackle this fruit. I didn't know what to expect. There are hundreds of Scriptural references to love. There are thousands of articles and books written on the topic of love. How could I possibly do "love" full justice?

Well, I couldn't. Not anymore then any of the other fruits I have studied. The process of learning was admittedly a little different then I envisioned. Instead of mostly academic with a little application on the side, my study has ended up being exactly the opposite. God has allowed me to learn more about love by seeing love in action first hand and by experiencing love personally.

*Love at its purest flows through sacrifice and service. I observed this in my husband for the church he serves as he calmly and steadfastly followed God's will regardless of backlash and misunderstanding. On a personal level this past month, D patiently served my every need in the hospital and in our home in a Christ-like washing of feet kind of way. It is love I will never forget!

*Love can be messy and that is ok! Love can require reaching out of, sometimes far beyond, my comfort zones. Brazil, on mission; my own town, on mission...both stretched me in different ways and got a little messy at times, but both helped me better understand the concept of who is my neighbor and how to better love my neighbor. (The book Same Kind of Different As Me was hugely impactful in this lesson.)

*Love is a choice of obedience and really needs to come from a genuine heart submitted to Christ. I can choose to love my enemies (those who hurt me), doing good to them and praying for them...but only through His strength will I find long term success. In this past year, I experienced a personal, fresh understanding of love and forgiveness and freedom.

*God is love. So simple. So true. All other love flows from the Original and Pure love of God into all the little aspects of my life.

I shouldn't have been intimidated last January. But thinking back, I am glad that I didn't know what to expect from "love" because in my ignorance I might have tried to avoid some of these lessons.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Titles are funny things and can reveal alot about a person. Specifically, titles are funny things when you place your name in front of them and make it personal.

For instance, I prefer Marie: Full-time-wife-and-mom. It works for me.

I just like that so much better to the Stay-at-home-mom or Homemaker title. Those titles are just fine, and sure, they mean basically the same thing, but they just personally make me cringe when I hear them applied to me. It's a funny thing.

Anyways, last night while I tried to get my mind to fall asleep, it circled around on this topic of titles mixed with some of the things that had happened during our Christmas break. And I came up with some amusing new ones that relate directly to my main title above.

*(At least they were amusing to ME with my nightly narcotics in my system.)

~Over-the-counter Acne Expert
( I have three teens in my house.)
~Radio Morality Controller
(Only when I have kids in the car.)
~Evil Queen of Chore Distribution
(Somehow the house still gets messy even over Christmas break.)
~Impromptu Scheduler of Life
(According to some family members, just as the family settles in to their various projects, I will suddenly announce we are going somewhere and are about to be late. This may or may not be accurate! I plead the 5th!)
~Chief Elf
(Out of pure necessity due to my husband's title of Chief Grinch.)
(Chief Worry Wart...remember I have 3 teens in the house. Fortunately, D reminded me I have a "box".)

Of course there are countless other titles out there which relate directly to mommy-hood and always make me laugh, but those in particular made me giggle as I drifted off to sleep last night.

*Brief health update: I am down to only needing prescription pain pills at night and will hopefully be off these within a week! Praise God, I am feeling better and doing more every day!!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I wouldn't hang out with me!

A bizarre thing happened to me the other day. I was looking for something specific online and googled it. Two top options popped a website that hasn't been updated in a while and the other a blog.

So I clicked on the blog and

Not really me. It wasn't like I clicked onto my own blog or anything.

But it was some lady who lived in the midwest. Her profile says she gardens. And she thinks Anne of Green Gables is a classic. And she has 4 kids. She homeschooled. And she is a ministry wife who likes to read and write.

Eery! She probably has a goofball Golden-Doodle too and she just didn't admit to it on her profile!

And to top it all off, the thought occurred to me as I read her profile that I wouldn't choose to hang out with her over a cup of tea.


Please hear me...I am NOT being mean to her! If anything I am being mean to ME!

I suppose it just goes to show that the stupid profile thing on these blogs can be terribly misleading. After all, I am fabulously fun to hang out with over a cup of tea!! And she probably is too!!

So I have taken swift action to retrieve my blogger image! I have moved my gardening corner on the sidebar down to the very bottom of the page. That should take care of any misconceptions about who I really am.

Random thought: I wonder if she found my blog's profile if she would freak out too or if she would think I was a really cool gal?! I am pretty sure if she stumbled onto this particular post she would suggest counseling and keep her distance!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The thrill of a new project!

After several months of watching/waiting/praying over a particular women's ministry project, we at long last have some clarity to move forward with a stride rather then little babysteps. It feels so good to stretch out a little bit and cover a bunch of ground instead of being kept close and tight.

And, oh, the thrill of a new project! A new project that combines several of my favorite things: friends, womens' ministry, Bible Study, outreach, blogging/writing.

I was up for two hours past my bedtime, brainstorming and creating and dreaming.

I know that it is possibly a short term project for an 8 week time period. But maybe it will extend longer. It may just be meaningful for a small circle of ladies. But it might also reach out further then we could imagine.

I can't wait to see what God will do with this, where He will take it, where He will lead us...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Al, the Nurse

While in the hospital, I had two opportunities to "chat" with an interesting guy named Al. He just so happened to be one of my nurses.

The first we met was my first day in for the "minor" procedure of cleaning the clot out of the vein. Al was friendly and quickly put me at much ease as one can feel mostly naked in a cold, sterile room on a skinny operating table. And as he was the one who held the power over my anesthesia, I was extra friendly. We small-talked all through the twilight drug laced two hour procedure. I was actually very alert as he had been instructed to keep me so. More alert then I preferred!

In the course of conversation he learned I was a pastor's wife in a town practically next door to him. He casually mentioned his religious upbringing. He had your classic five-days-a-week-and-it's-still-not-enough church experience growing up. He was done with religion.

And so I said the only thing I could think of...I invited him to try the Christmas Eve service at my church.

And then we moved on to mountain biking and other topics like "can I have some more of the good stuff now", etc.

The afternoon and evening after the procedure was truly awful for me. All the slim chances of side effects I had. In and out of awareness, the word "torture" just seemed to hover in my mind. I was a mess!

And to add insult to injury, the next morning came word from the doctor that they needed to repeat the same procedure.

So back to pre-op, back to the cold operating room under the lights, back on the narrow hard bench of an operating table...and back to Al. It was strangely comforting to have Al back in my corner with his syringe ready and with his steady stream of small talk to distract me. He was actually assigned to a different surgery but when he stumbled into me he switched out with the other nurse. And so we continued our conversations through another procedure.

Somewhere during this second chance to interact, in between the "this is a bit like de ja vous" and "can I have some more of the good stuff", he asked me to remind him exactly where our church was located.

That was the first clue I was permitted to see that God was allowing me to be in an extremely vulnerable and uncomfortable place for a purpose.

I do hope I run into Al the nurse, and his family, soon. Like on Christmas Eve. At our church. It would be a really great gift! But even if I don't see him there, I still can appreciate how God weaves hope and purpose into the hardest things we go through.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Elf Christmas party with game ideas

Due to my little "vacation" in the hospital, I missed out on actually seeing my big elf party for our highschool youth group. But according to my two boys and their friends, everyone had a blast, so here it is: #18 on the favorite Christmas game list, an Elf-themed party.

~Come dressed with Christmas cheer/or wear your own creative elf hat...can be judged for prizes.
~Provide whatever "real food" you want, but there will be lots of junk for the games.
~Movie trivia icebreaker:

*how do you spread x-mas cheer?
(sing loud for all to hear)
*what building did Buddy’s biological father work in?
(empire state building)
*What are the food groups for elves?
(candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup)
*What other human shared Buddy’s affinity for elf culture?
*what toy scared Buddy most?
(jack in the box)
*what did Buddy say was his favorite thing to do?
*what actor played Buddy’s Papa elf?
(Bob Newhart)

~Team relay challenge... embrace Buddy’s affinity for elf culture:

* After everyone is broken off into teams, provide each team with a gingerbread house to put together to work on unity and team building. This could be done at the beginning of the party as an icebreaker or just before the team competition starts.

One person from each team must do one of the following options, each team member must participate in at least one option.

*eat plate of spaghetti with maple syrup and candy
*chug pop (not 2 litre but a can) and burp convincingly
*sing x-mas carol loud for all to hear (in microphone preferably)
*snowball accuracy (throw styrofoam balls into a target)
*cut out 5 paper snowflakes (that are decent!), or decorate 5 Christmas cookies, etc.

Either the teams can race each other or take turns racing against the clock...depends on time constraints and how much everyone wants to watch the fun of the other teams.

~Show movie if there is time.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

December Dublin Update

He is stumping around on that cast like it isn't even there. Hopefully just a few more weeks and he will be free from his peg-leg. But even through his dis-ability, Dublin is bravely:

*enjoying his pedi's...

*loving the snow...

With fur like that, he doesn't feel a bit chilly and heads for the biggest piles of snow to bury his face in.!

*has taken up yoga...

Uhmm-ouch!!!! How can that be comfortable?!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Another fun game option...

# 15 on my Christmas games list (posted on 12/14/09) is the ABC Christmas Game. This is as fun ( or funny) as you want to make it and is great for all ages (as long as they know their abc's). My 13 year old daughter and Big D love option must be their dramatic/creative side coming out.

#1 option:

Each person must write out a Christmas-ey word for each letter of the alphabet.

This can be a race, or you can judge for creativity and humor.

#2 option:

Improv Christmas game where each person takes turns making up a sentence that is creating a story but the the first word of their sentence must start with the following letter of the alphabet. It has to go super fast, so you might need to impose a referee to disqualify people who pause too long. The referee will also disqualify anyone who uses the wrong next letter.

All reindeer are certifiably insane.
Blitzen especially has issues.
Coal poisening can be blamed for his problem though.
Don’t try and make excuses for him.
Even Santa likes to party with him.
Far be it from me to criticize “the big guy” but he is getting a little senile.
Grandma got runover by Blitzen with Santa behind the wheel.
Hasn't she recovered?
I am sure she still has nightmares though.
Just during her mid-morning nap...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Another favorite Christmas party game...

Mad Gabs always works at a party, so I compiled this Christmas-ey Mad Gabs list for my husband's annual staff/volunteer party. I must admit I wasn't for sure it would go over but it ended up being a big hit. Most are fairly easy...the fun is in forcing people on center stage to say crazy sounding phrases and, of course, the team competition. If you get stuck answering any of these, just let me know and I will bail you out with the answer key...except the last two which are still a mystery to me. By the way, my kids had alot of fun with these too!

1. Foresty Thus No Man

2. Oak Wrist Mystery

3. Sigh Land In Height

4. Rude Olive Their Head Knows Rained Ear

5. A Wayne Aim May Injure

6. Sill Verb Else

7. Folly Snuff Eat Add

8. Oak A Mocah Me Manual

9. Owe Calm Mall Leaf Hateful

10. Caw Dressed Deem Air Reach End Almond

11. Lid Dolled Rum Herb Poi

12. Joint Tooth How Hurled

13. Could Keen Gwen Senseless

14. Thug Wren Chews Toll Crisp Miss

15. Egg Wrist Mask Air Ill

16. To Us Thin I’d Beef Fork Wrist Miss

17. Thin Hut Car Rock Her Hand Them How Skiing

18. Thug If Tough Them Madge Eye

19. Elf Daze Huff Quiz Miss

20. Thermos One Her Fool Stay Huff Da Hear

21. Hole Lid Oh Tom Of Bed Lee Am

22. Awe He Chaw Lee Quiz Miss

23. Ache Hand He Gain

24. Cream Misses Ear

25. extra challenge: How Soft Thaw Hood In Cent Ahs

26. extra challenge: Age Eyelids Car Hissed Miss Sin Wells

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

#5 is my favorite Christmas party game...

Sure, I could make it number one on my list (previous post) but that is too obvious...

We did this in a couples setting two years ago, some good friends and others we were still getting to know better...and it is now legend!

The mystery auction game ended up being so much fun! By not telling anyone exactly what the game was and making it mysterious, I had the whole anticipation thing and the surprise factor of it. And the fact that they didn't have to shop but donated a couple bucks at the door was a positive too.

I bought and re-gifted a variety of small and cheap gifts (can of wd40, pens, etc) with some bigger, more expensive, funny gifts (huge pink bra with a roll of toilet paper, Christmas boxers). There were more presents then people. I wrapped all of them in plain brown paper. Each person had been given monopoly money ($11) at the door in an envelope with their name on it. Throughout the night, people could win different amounts for different things to add to their original amount. For instance, the first people to arrive and the last people to arrive received $5. The tallest elf and the shortest elf received $1 each, and so on.

After mingling and eating for awhile we circled up and we explained that the mystery game actually was an auction for the gifts which would take place after we gave the chance for a few more people to earn some more money. We then voted on the most merry outfit and least Christmasy outfit, the worst Christmas gift story, the most romantic gift, etc. And to top it off we played a guys vs. girls Catch Phrase with the winning team each getting $5. We pulled out the pile of gifts and put them in the middle of the floor and Big D served as our auctioneer (he and I didn't participate in the bidding since we knew what we had).

He played it up and described the gifts but wouldn't let them touch them. When a gift was finally bought, that person had to open it and show it off. At any time in the game, anyone could make an offer on that opened gift. Sometimes the offers were lower and other times higher so the original winner of the gift had potential to "make" money on it. And you could offer on as many gifts as you had money for, so potentially people could leave without a gift or with several.

Just one word of prepared for pranks. Our neighborhood now see's us in a whole different way.

We found our bush in the above state of dress after church on Sunday. It had been snowing so hard when I left that I had not even noticed it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Best Christmas Party Game List

I adore Christmas parties, and so I have gathered what I believe to be the top 17 game ideas. These are great for family gatherings as well as for friend's, couples, office, and kid parties. They are all very merry and good clean fun! All of these can involve prizes, can be played individually or in teams, and are easily tweaked to fit your own party's personality.

As there are 17 on my top list, I obviously can't post the directions for all of them on this blog. If you would like detailed instructions, feel free to let me know and I will email you the details. In addition, one or two come from bloggers who have requested their directions not be re-posted on other blogs and so I will honor that. But over the next days leading to Christmas I will post on my own personal favorites from the list and include the directions.

So drum roll please...The best Christmas/Party Game Ideas out there are:

1. Right Left Christmas Game Nativity Story...involves prizes/gifts

2. Crazy Christmas scavenger hunt

3. Christmas Gift Exchange/Guessing Identity Game Idea

4. Christmas Memory Game
(Get 10 to 20 small Christmas items and place on a tray...)

5. Mystery Auction ... not just Christmas, involves prizes

6. Christmas Feud Survey/ Results

7. "Are you ready for Christmas?"

8. Christmas Gift/Name Bingo

9. White elephant/Dirty Santa

10. Food tasting games

11. Design Santa’s New Hat
(Couples are given a base supply of materials to work with to design Santa a new look.)

12. Identify Items
(Teams identify from a list of “ingredients” or descriptions of various Christmas items.)

13. Christmas Trivia Game

14. Name That Song/Christmas Carol Game
(titles of carols re-worded)

15. ABC games, 2 options
(improv-style or individual icebreaker)

16. People Scavenger Hunt
(The Goal is to Find out who has done everything on the list First... or just use it as a Christmas Party icebreaker! Prizes are an option. List available to copy.)

17. Christmas-ey Mad Gabs
(Like the popular game...)

18. Elf themed party
(yep-based off the movie)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Control issues

It is Sunday morning and where am I at? In pj's at my computer instead of at strange life has become.

An update:

If you read my last post you already know a little about my spiritual challenge. And while I didn't allow rebelliousness to de-rail my heart with the "whys", I am still looking for the "so what now" in what is God's purpose for this mess.

Physically, my left hand is always tingling, feels continually "asleep" and has limited coordination. As I told my Dr. in a fatigue and drug-induced state, it is numb-ling. (Who knows what else I said, that is just one he didn't let me forget.) Hopefully the physical therapy will get that back to normal soon so I won't need help with buttons, can type with more then my right hand, etc. My left shoulder, due to surgery, also needs to come back to what I was used to, but oh how I miss that left hand! They said it could come back quickly so I feel hopeful.

Emotionally, I missed out on some major once-in-a-lifetime moments with a couple of my kids while in the hospital and still feel badly about it. As a mom who adores "being there" for her kids, this really sucked! Also during this time, my parents had a pre-planned trip to celebrate early Christmas with us. I was so grateful they were here, especially for the kids, but it wasn't exactly a celebratory visit.

And I managed to time this in such a way to miss 3 Christmas parties this week. For my husband, the classical Grinch, this was all good. But I really love to party at Christmas-time!

So I sit here in my pj's sipping tea, thinking about some of the hard stuff. Stuff that I like to control. And it has just kind of hit me...why fight this. Why fight for control! Just allow God to do His thing with me according to His timing. He doesn't need my approval or advice. He is God! He has a plan for my life. He is in control.

God is in control and has a plan!

God is in control of my life!

Friday, December 11, 2009

an old companion

when god allowed some hard stuff to happen to me these last 8 days, i had quite a bit of time to think...

and i could almost see my old companion rebellion sitting by my hospital bed.

i could almost hear her questioning whispers of why? become my own.

i could almost smell the sour scent of hopelessness that she prefers.

i could almost feel her crushing weight of bitterness on my chest.


but through the strength of the perfect companion, through god's word, through the encouragement of believing friends, my old companion rebellion could never make her full presence known to me.

i am so grateful.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


In eight days, I am hostessing a humungus Christmas party at my house. (I get very excited about Christmas parties!)

And out of the next 8 days, I have the potential of spending four of them in the hospital. (Not so excited about hospitals!)

And this is what I am spending my valuable time on?


But here is the thing. I saw the most adorable arrangements using the exact same pieces in the huge pots downtown the other day and wanted one for my very own. Needless to say, mine is the ugly step-sister to the big professional ones. But I am still hoping to figure it out. Maybe more greenery.

Anyways, Merry Christmas!!!!!!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

"Out of the depths..."

A short visit to the hospital yesterday for a quick check up and a referral to a doctor closer to home turned into 7 hours, more tests, and a second and third opinion different from the first.

Back I go to Psalms 130, this time to verse 1 and 2...."Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; O Lord hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy."

I know this chapter is a psalm of ascent and has to do with forgiveness of sin. In that, this Scripture highlights the bigger picture of the character of God. He is a God who listens, rescues, and is worthy of putting my hope in. And that is exactly what I need right now and in the following days.