Meet Lucy!

She's the newest addition to our family! Her name is Lucy, and we adopted her today after work. Isn't she sweet?

Hubby and I have been talking about getting a pet for awhile. We decided to wait until all the Christmas bustle was over, with all the traveling we did it would have been too hard to try to adopt a pet. Here she is looking all prim and proper. She seems to be a very sweet cat--very willing to let us hold her and play with her.

We were waiting to see another kitten when she and her sisters were brought in. We knew she would be scooped up quickly, so we asked to see her instead. We're so glad we did! Look how teeny she is! She's only 3 months old.

We can't wait to bring her home! She will be spayed and have her vaccines at the beginning of next week, and then she's ours!

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Celebrating a Year of Abundance

I can't believe the new year is almost upon us! I don't usually think about New Year's until Christmas is over, but for the past few days I've been thinking about what I can improve upon in this next year. I'm tired of my desire for possessions and thirst for material things. (Christmas, unfortunately, tends to bring this out in me!) I want to cut back on my spending, live simply, and give away what I can to others who need it more than I do.

When I happened upon Sallie's post over at A Gracious Home about
celebrating a year of abundance, it struck such a chord with me that I knew that this was something I could do. I plan on working out specifics once I discuss this more thoroughly with my hubby. Maybe I can get it laid out before the New Year.

If anyone is interested, check out this post and this post (scroll down to the post on Dec. 19) for more information.

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Special Christmas Memories

My birthday is one week from today! I am very excited, because this is my first birthday spent with my hubby. Even though I've known him for over 5 years, we've always (understandably) been apart for Christmas. I'm not sure what we're doing yet for my birthday, but I hope it's a fun day. One of the perks of being a Christmas baby is that I've never had to go to school or work on my birthday, so I've always been able to choose the daily activities.

Christmas is my favorite time of year! I love the lights, the decorations, the movies, sending Christmas cards, connecting with old friends and relatives, and most of all, the music. I love the Christmas Eve candlelight service, coming up with gifts for everyone, and pretty wrapping paper. I love nativity sets, caroling around the neighborhoods, and church cantatas. And of course I love that my birthday is during this time of year. If I was born in a different season, I would have wanted to have a Christmas wedding like Beth (happy anniversary tomorrow!), but it didn't work out that way.

This year has been fun because it is my first Christmas with my husband. I have been able to, for the first time, share my Christmas memories with him. Here are a few of the decorations around our apartment:

I got a Precious Moments "Our First Christmas Together 2006" ornament

I used to make "Kitty's First Christmas" ornaments for my cat when I was growing up. The one on the top left is from 1993, with each subsequent year until 1995. The bottom one is crosstitched. I like how they become progressively more complex as I got older.

As I said, I was born the day after Christmas in 1982. This stocking is what the stork brought me in. :-) Actually, it was made by hospital volunteers. The tag reads:
"This Red Christmas Stocking
Symbolic of the time of year
was made by the KHV's [volunteers]
to hold your baby dear.

We've enjoyed having you with us
for the past few happy days
and we wish you a Merry Christmas
and many joys along life's ways.

Kennestone Hospital Volunteers"

This ornament makes me smile because the inscription says: "Baby's First Christmas 1982". However, I wasn't born until the day AFTER Christmas in 1982, so my first would have been in 1983. It makes me laugh to have a "First Christmas" ornament with the wrong year on it :-)

What special Christmas memories do you have?

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The Nativity: A Child's View

I thought this was quite funny. FYI "faffing" means "wasting time doing nothing", and "Tesco's" is a supermarket/department store in UK.

Went to Abigail's school Christmas concert (no "proper" Nativity this year Sad ). Each class did a little something followed by a song or 2. Anyway, Ab's class did a Nativity scene, with Ab as Mary ( Grin How proud was I?). A few mins into their bit Ab promptly lifted her dress & shoved baby Jesus up it. The script then wandered away from what they'd learnt & goes as follows....

Joseph: "What are you doing?"
Mary: "I'm feeding our baby"
Shepherd: "Have you got a bottle up there then?"
Mary: "Don't be silly he's having milk from my booby"
Joseph: "That's disgusting"
Mary: "No, that baby milk they have in Tescos is disgusting. My baby's having proper milk"
Shepherd: "What's a booby?"
Mary: "Those sticky out bits ladies have"
Shepherd: "They're not boobies, they're nipples"
Mary: "No they're not, they're boobies"
Joseph: "So why can't Jesus have milk from a bottle then?"
Mary: "Because I haven't got a breast pump with me - you forgot to put it on the donkey"
Shepherd: "Can't you ask the teacher for a bottle to feed Jesus with?"
Mary: "No because this is the best way to feed Jesus. Anyway bottles haven't been invented yet & even if they were I've just had a baby so if you think I'm faffing about round Tescos to buy baby milk when I make proper milk in my boobies you can think again"

I felt a teeny bit sorry for their class teacher - she did try her best to steer them back towards their proper lines but she was laughing so much she didn't really stand a chance. The line about Joseph forgetting the breast pump finished her off - she slid to the floor & couldn't get up for laughing....
Source: "My daughter the BF militant" from HunnyBeez forum
Hat Tip: Catherine

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Living Richly

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."

--Jim Elliot
Once I was winning
In fortune and fame
Everything that I dreamed for
To get a start in life's game
Then suddenly it happened
I lost every dime
But I'm richer by far
With a satisfied mind

--Johnny Cash, "A Satisfied Mind"
The other day was my church's annual women's Christmas dinner. While it was a wonderful time to get together and worship our Savior, something didn't sit with me right. I've noticed this before, but it struck me that night: Our church is extremely wealthy, and it shows. Many women I see are perfectly groomed, with designer suits, purses, and shoes. It unsettled me a bit.

Don't get me wrong, I love our church. It's doctrinely sound, welcoming, and many of the people I know are truly wonderful, humble Christians. But I wonder how many people examine how they live their lives and consider the message they convey with the wealth they have amassed.

This is a topic that I've been struggling with lately. American consumerism is slammed in my face so much that I feel confused about what is acceptable for Christians. Is it okay to spend money on designer clothes? Expensive furniture? Bally's fitness memberships? Hubby and I have been talking a lot lately about what it means to really be a Christian. How should we stand out from the world? What makes us different?

I see the wealth around me and cannot help but wonder if I'm just being uptight. Is it okay to be a Christian and be wealthy? Or is this just a modern American idea, where materialism has wrongly been infused into the Christian culture?

Right now in our Sunday school class, we are studying the great patriarch, Abraham. After God makes His covenant with Abram and promises him the land, a famine comes to Canaan and drives Abram and his family to Egypt. (We aren't told if God told Abram to flee there, or if Abram lost faith and fled there on his own.) Upon return, both Abram's clan and Lot's have developed huge amounts of wealth. And you know what happens? Familial strife. It is at this point when Abram and Lot separate, with Lot headed down the road to Sodom and Gomorrah. (See Genesis 13.) Other examples of wealth in the Bible include Solomon, who eventually turned away from the Lord. Of course, he also had other problems. Another is the rich young ruler (see Mark 10:17-31). After the rich young ruler rejects Jesus, Jesus proclaims, "Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God." (Mk. 10:24b-25)

Does this mean we should steer clear of wealth, since it leads to destruction? I don't think so. Job, in all his wealth, was a righteous man. After Job loses it all and God reveals Himself to Job, He restores all of Job's wealth in order to bless him. Wealth can be a blessing. Several verses in Proverbs say this. (See Proverbs 10:22 for an example). While wealth might be a blessing, Paul commands us not to desire it. He writes in 1 Timothy, "But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wanderd away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. (6:9-10) This desire for wealth is what gets us in trouble, not the actual wealth itself.

How can wealth be a blessing, if there is so much temptation attached to misuse it? The answer is to Give generously. God loves a cheerful giver (1 Cor. 9:7). We are to find joy in giving! There are many passages in Scripture that command giving. Later in 1 Timothy, Paul commands: "As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, not to set their hopes on the uncertainity of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. (6:17-19) Proverbs 11:24 describes one of the blessings of giving: "One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want." When God blesses us with wealth, it is our joy to give to furthering His kingdom! Not only that, but those who give receive further blessings in return. Just like in the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30), if we are faithful in a little, God will set us over much.

I think this is why I so desire to live simply, and I don't understand others who appear to be chasing the wind (although I really can't know their hearts). I don't want or need to be bogged down with excess money, with its worries and temptations, when it could be used so much more responsibly elsewhere. If God happens to bless Hubby and I with wealth later down the road, we don't need to see it as a hinderance to simplicity. What joy to give it away!

If you would like to read more about this subject, I highly recommend "The Treasure Principle" by Randy Alcorn. It's a short and sweet little book that talks about the joy of giving.
"Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce." Proverbs 3:9

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The Passing of a Generation

pearl-harbor.jpgToday marks the 65th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Sunday, December 7th, 1941. The US had just emerged from a decade of economic depression, and rumors of a worldwide war circulated. The country was divided in its stand on whether or not the United States should enter this war.

Every generation has their “Where were you?” moments. For this generation, it was “Where were you when you heard about Pearl Harbor?” For many, it was over the radio, a somber bulletin by their beloved President, Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941 - a date which will live in infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.

The United States was at peace with that nation and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with the government and its emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific…

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.

With confidence in our armed forces - with the unbounding determination of our people - we will gain the inevitable triumph - so help us God.

Pearl Harbor’s significance is the start of the US involvement in World War II. Every American with a father, son, or husband thought about what a war would mean to their country and their personal livelihood. Though the dangers were real, they rose to the occasion and poured their whole support behind their country and their troops which undoubtedly contributed in a positive way towards the outcome of the war.

remember.jpgFor many years, the cry “Remember Pearl Harbor!” encouraged the battle-weary soldiers, and even after the war was over, the cry still remained. Remember what happened, that early morning at 7:55am when 2,390 lives were lost. As the years have passed, the cry has grown faint. Today, not many really know why we should remember Pearl Harbor. It’s gone the way of “Remember the Alamo”. Today in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, survivors met for what possibly could be the last time to honor the memory of their fellow citizens who were not so fortunate to escape the Japanese bombs.

Although it’s inevitable, it makes me sad to see a generation dying out. With them go the stories, the firsthand accounts of Pearl Harbor, the war, and life during that time. I have enjoyed listening to my grandmother over the years talk about what it was like, and the significance of her high school graduating class of 1946. A different time, a different life. Yet, one thing still remains the same. The tragedy of Pearl Harbor brought a country together - like our present day tragedy of 9/11.

poster.jpgI encourage anyone wanting to know more about Pearl Harbor to check out this excellent interactive map and timeline on National Geographic’s website. Another more in-depth analysis of the attack and the background that lead up to it can be found on Wikipedia. Some might consider the Japanese to have been successful with the attack due to their ability to surprise those at Pearl Harbor. However, it was also unsuccessful in that it failed to sink any of the U.S. aircraft carriers, and it brought the U.S. into the war on the side of the Allies. Who knows how the American people might have responded to the war if they had not had a tragic event to remind them why they were sacrificing and fighting. As you can see in the one-year anniversary poster from 1942, that dedication to upholding freedom and American values was renewed.

Pearl Harbor 1941

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For the Love of Gardening

I still can't believe it's that time of year already. We just had our first cold blast of the winter last week, but now is the time to order seeds and summer flowers.
If you're around me long enough, my passion for gardening and enjoying the beauty of creation comes through. I dream of gardens graced with daffodils, tulips, roses, and hydrangeas (though not in the same season!). I've tried growing bulbs for several years, but every spring something has gone awry and no flowers pop up. One year I bought these gorgeous tulips, but they never sprouted. I must not have watered them enough. The next year I purchased lovely minature daffs and some hyacinthoides (the "wild" version of hyacinths), only to have short, spindly leaves shoot up, and no flowers. This was after moving to southeastern Texas, and I've now realized that bulbs here need a chilling period in the fridge. This year I gave up on bulbs, but I'm sure I'll regain my energy for next year. And I'll have to make room in my fridge to chill the bulbs.

This year I'm turning my attention elsewhere. I've never grown roses before, but they are by far my favorite plant. I own several books and catalogs devoted to this flower. I'm head over heels in love with English roses, so this year I decided to make the plunge and buy one of these beauties. I found one that's perfect--heat-tolerant, shade-tolerant, and compact, with fragrant pale pink blooms. I can't wait to get this plant, and I hope it grows to its full potential!

I currently garden on my apartment balcony, but someday hope to have a little plot of earth in order to grow many wonderful plants. Someday I hope, when I have children of my own, that they will share my passion for gardening and learn to love God's magnificent creation as well.

I haven't quite found my sea-legs when it comes to gardening in this area, but I've found that it's worth the perserverance. I may not be able to grow everything I desire like I could "up north" (in north Georgia!), but it's worth a try. The beauty of a garden cannot be easily surpassed. It's one of God's gifts to men that we see His hand in this glorious creation. When I plant my nose in a flower, or see the petals of a rosebud unfurl, I cannot help but think of the beauty God's created around me. I can't imagine life without this joy on my little balcony.

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The Simple Life

I'm certainly not the person to write a post about simplicity! I must confess, in the past few years I have departed from my missionary kid upbringing to embrace the consumerism of Americans. I have always been an impulse buyer, but it's become even more dangerous now that I bring home a substantial paycheck (substantial meaning more than my baby-sitting wages of high school). I have fallen into the trap of wanting things.

Then I got married. My husband is one of the most non-materialistic people you could meet. As we start our journey together, he is constantly pulling me back to earth, reminding me to place my values into heavenly treasures that will last forever. He's very good for me in that respect. As we look at our life and where we will be aiming to be in the next few years, I realize that a simple lifestyle will be better for us all the way around. But the challenge of getting over that first hump! Of letting go my desire for things, and focusing completely on God's desires! Oh, easier said than done.

As I said, I am definitely not the person to write a post on simplicity. I am the person to write a post on American materialism, its negative impact on my life and.... that's where I am right now. In between. Heading the right direction, but certainly not there yet! Perhaps in a year I'll be able to reflect more on simplicity, but for now this is where I am.

These thoughts are not out of the blue, but prompted by an excellent post by my friend Joanna, entitled Simple?. She links to some good websites, and talks about different areas to pursue simplicity.

Other bloggers have touched on this subject as well. One of my favorite blogs, Amy's Humble Musings, wrote about it recently in a post from this summer called Reduction Production. An excerpt:

One detail I’ve learned along the way is that a penny saved is much more than a penny earned. But what’s even better is to reduce your need for pennies in the first place. While working to produce a supplemental income is wise (especially if the plan is entrepreneurial in nature), one shouldn’t overlook the value of reducing expenses as a wise contribution as well.
Amy also talks about how children fit into our desire for a simpler life (not applicable to us right now, I know, but definitely fitting into our plan for the future) in her post Good Things.

Another of my favorite blogs, A Gracious Home, has also addressed this topic numerous times. I can tell it is near and dear to Sallie's heart as she and her husband try to seek simplicity in their own lives. Here are a few of her posts that I liked:
I hope these links will help you in your own life as you strive toward simplicity. I plan on sitting down with Paul sometime and talking about this seriously... after the holidays, though. ;-)

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