December 28, 2013

Happy New Year



GRANT me a wish now, O bonny NewYear,—
What do you wish me from far or anear? 
Show me your gifts and your treasures rare. 
Read me your prophecies, dark or fair

Wealth will you scatter, or fame, or power.
Sympathy, knowledge, or friendship's dower —
Gems from the Orient, pearls from the sea, 
Pledges and promises. Love's low plea?
What lies before me of loss or gain —
What is awaiting me, joy or pain?
What is my portion of bale or bliss —
Fate's cruel frown, or Fortune's kiss?
Mysteries sacred, and sweet demands —
Ministry, sorrow, and toiling hands?

Lift back the curtain, that I may know
Whither my footsteps, this year, may go
Will there be fountains along the way, 
Cooling my thirst by the night-time or day?
Pillars of cloud through the day, and by night
Pillars of flame that will guide me aright?
Balms that will soothe me, or darts and stings ? 
Sandals for pilgrimage, soaring wings? —
Wings are for angels; if mine should grow,
Life everlasting I then would know

Whate'er you wish then, O bright New Year,
Whether that wish bring a smile or tear,
Message and token it still shall be
Sent by my Father through you to me. 
Lead where my path will from day to day,
Still He will guide me along the way;
This is His covenant, tried and true —
"As is your day shall your strength be, too;" 
This is the word which my doubt shall soothe,
"Crooked made straight, and rough made smooth.''
Naught will I question as on I plod —
Whatever comes is the gift of God

Martha C. Oliver 
New Year's Wishes, 1905




December 24, 2013

I remember...

There was lots of noise in the Christmases of long ago. Pinochle cards being passed. "Renege!" Trivial Pursuit and Password. The Little's gathered around Christmas videos, trying to hear above the clamor of competition and laughter, and stories. There were big - super sized - bowls of potato salad, macaroni salad, fruit salad, white rice, adobo. Always cookies, candy, Pepsi.

Someone new just arrived! Loud shouts of "HEY! It's Gina!" or "HEY! It's Uncle Gords!" or "HEY! Laura's here!"

"Merry Christmas! Mele Kalikimaka!"

Hugs all around and "Puh thing!" which meant, "you're special, we're glad to see you, you look nice, we're proud of you" all in one. If there was a baby, he or she was passed around and kissed and tickled and fed.

"It's 11:30! C'mon you guys. Quiet down!"

When Grandpa was alive there were songs on his guitar or his ukulele.

We squished ourselves on the couch, cousins on the floor leaning on one another; uncles stood in the back with a Pepsi ready to duck out for a cigarette. Someone would be appointed the reading...The Christmas story from Luke 2 and then carols sung. What a joyful noise, a happy sound. Finally, it's midnight. We belt out the tune Mele Kalikimaka, followed by a gentler "Happy Birthday" to Jesus. Someone prays. We are Thankful to God.

The quiet starts to pick up to a low din. Time to get up and stretch, grab a piece of fudge or a bite of chicken and rice. "Oldest to youngest or youngest to oldest?!" someone shouts.

It's decided - youngest to oldest. The baby is first. One by one we all open a gift. No one is left out. There are ooh's and aah's over each one, with the unspoken goal of every giver to make the recipient cry. Tears bring a chorus of "Puh thing!" from every auntie and uncle. We could count on at least one person, if not several, opening a Green Bay Packer this or that.

Those were the days, the Christmases of long ago.

It's different now. A Glariada Christmas is a mother's memory to my children. They don't know the comfort of those precious times.

What will my children remember years from now of their Santos Christmases?

Will they remember visiting the Christmas tree farm to find the perfect tree? Tamales and pupusas and sparkling cider? Sleeping under the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve?

Will they remember that Sophia did the gift wrapping resorting to pillowcases and scarves when the paper ran out?

I'm sure they won't forget hanging the Nativity quilt every year, and wishing for snow, wishing for snow, wishing for snow. Most likely they will think fondly, I hope, on playing their violin, or singing or reciting at our Church service.

I hope that they remember Christmas is a time to reflect on GOD WITH US, that the lights, gifts, music, food - all that makes up our celebration is not about us, but in celebration of HIM.

Thank you Father, for sending your Son, Jesus.  This is indeed, a Merry Christmas.






December 20, 2013

A Comfortable Day.


A herd of elephants woke me this morning 
in the form of three children.
Here they are on the balcony of my room...
"It snowed! It snowed! It snowed!"



Not quite enough for a good snow angel...


But enough to make the woods behind our house 
mysteriously beautiful.


The road to our neighbors pony.


The Cozy Santos Cottage welcomed these rascals with 
a full breakfast: ham and eggs, cinnamon bread straight from the oven, 
and two full pots to warm their bones; creamy hot chocolate and jasmine tea.

Idyllic? Yes.

Yet, Middle Skittle complained. 
She didn't notice the warm welcome. 
Focused only on her loss, she came in with a protruding lower lip and furrowed eyebrows. 
"The snow is melting! I didn't get to finish my snow fort! I don't want to do school."

"Naomi, didn't you pray for snow last night?" I reminded her.

"Yes."

"And didn't the Lord answer your prayer?"

"Yes."

"Did you have fun playing in it? Did you have fun on your walk to visit the pony?"

"Yes."

"Are you hungry?"

"Yes."

"Wouldn't you rather be thankful than complain?"

"Yes. But I want more!"

And there it was. Me. I was looking in a little mirror at myself.
Aren't we all like this at times? Focused on our "losses" rather than the constant provision of our Father?

Sophia commented on how cozy our house was with the snow and the nice breakfast.

God is the one who created us with emotions.
He made us to enjoy comfort and coziness.

When we feel these, Thank God. 

A little cottage and a warm breakfast is not the only way to experience comfort. 
It can also be a smile from a friend, the sun shining, sitting in a chair, 
OR,
closing our eyes and taking a deep breath in the midst of conflict. 

Can you see the comfort of God in the details of your life?

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights,
with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

He comforts us.

Let us also comfort others. 

December 17, 2013

Difficult days.

 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

2 Timothy 3:1-5

This is a hard verse.  How do we, as Christians, love these people if we are to avoid them?

~oOo~

A jury in Washington has awarded a whopping $50 million settlement to a couple that says, if they had known their five-year-old son would be born with a genetic defect, they would have aborted him.



The mother with the "defective" little Oliver.

You can read the full story by clicking on the photo.

What a heaviness. A parent bitter about the hardship of raising a child with disabilities is one thing. The courts deciding that compensation is required for the inconvenience is another. 

Who decides the value of another person? The courts?

Is there no fear of God?

These truly are difficult days. I am so glad to have a Father full of Wisdom to depend on.

December 14, 2013

Feelings


"You have had a hard day at work. It is almost time to head home. You are frustrated over the events of the day.This is how you feel: Frustrated. There is no problem here. In fact, if you are aware of God’s prompting, you may even know how to take that emotion, that frustration, to Him, and tell Him all about it. He wants to connect with you, He wants to hear you be authentic with Him. Remember Cain? “Cain, why are you angry?” God asked. He knows how we feel and He wants to meet with us in it.

However, let’s say that you don’t go to the Father. Instead, you think about what would alleviate the emotion of frustration. What whim could you pursue that would replace the frustration with something that feels better? Alcohol? Pornography? Spending money? Eating? Working out? Achieving? There are so many ways we can try to replace emotion (authenticity), with the pursuit of whims (falsehood).

This, my friends, is what is desperately sick about our flesh. It is not what we feel that is the problem, it is our response to it that can lead us into a life of folly. King Solomon himself experienced all of these whims, and he makes no pretenses about it."

Read the rest of this great article HERE.




December 10, 2013

December Daybook ~ 2013


(You may like to enjoy other daybooks)



For Today

Tuesday night, December 10, 2013

Outside our window...

There is no snow.  You can imagine how the children are taking this tragedy.

Gloom and doom all over their faces.

Joy and thanks all over mine.

I am thankful...

for chocolate covered coconut almonds.

Aren't you?

I am wearing...

A black turtleneck sweater, a soft woolen skirt, and black tights. Baby, it's COLD outside!

From the kitchen..

Many pots of tea,

Tangerines,

Grilled chicken and pasta for dinner

I am learning...

that God invites us to fellowship with Him rather than commands us to.

I am creating...

a list and checking it twice...

gonna give the kids a present that's nice.
  
I am going... 

with the children to a nursing home tomorrow.

They will join with their class to play Christmas music for the residents.

It should be a fun time.

I am remembering...

My sister in prayer. Her baby is due any time now. We are waiting expectantly.

I am reading...

The Holy Spirit of the Bible, by Brandon & Desiree Elrod

Various Christmas stories from the library

Galatians

Around the house...

Our Christmas quilt has found a home on the wall

Red and gold bulbs are hung with sparkly ribbon.

Candles are lit and the tree lights are on.

A quote to share...

“Man finds it hard to get what he wants, because he does not want the best; God finds it hard to give, because He would give the best, and man will not take it.”
― George MacDonald

Do you think this is true?

Some of my favorite things...

Warm socks

Warm sweaters

Hot tea

Blankets

Soft pajamas and a comfortable robe

A crackling fire

Have I told you that it is COLD out there?

A few plans for the rest of the month...

Sing Christmas Carols, eat chocolate, give thanks, give gifts, wear my red sparkle scarf, stay warm, read books, pray, go to church, enjoy my children, reach out to Mr. Santos.

Perhaps some tamales...maybe Mr. Santos would like to share some tamales.

Do not grow weary in well doing for in due season you shall reap if you faint not.

Pray for us.

A picture thought to share:




A new Tea Pot with matching cup and saucer!

(a gift from a friend who knows me well.)

December 07, 2013

Cousins and Cottages

We enjoyed a short visit to Portland this week ~ 
A half-way point to visit with my twin sister.

This, of course, meant...
COUSINS!


"Between the innocence of babyhood and the dignity of manhood, we find a delightful creature of a boy."


Auntie Cheri insisted we get a Christmas Tree to decorate.


Sophia added "Christmas Roses" from the front yard.


Naomi supplied the garland.


But, between playing ninjas and firemen,
I don't think the boys noticed their masterpiece.


I spent most of my time eating "Punkin Pie."
Isn't he scrumptious?
This handsome boy melted my heart by calling me "Mama."
(one of the perks of being a twin)

 ~ oOo ~ 



The new Santos Cottage is beginning 
to look a lot like Christmas.



“For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.” 
― Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

December 01, 2013

First day of Advent


The children and I spent the first night of Advent
enjoying a beautiful presentation of  
Handel's Messiah.

I wore my red wool coat with a matching scarf that sparkled. 
What a festive night, with the cold blustery winds outside, and the overheated church stuffed to capacity.

We were happy to get single file seats in the aisle because of the overflow of people. 

The minister gave thanks that the most beautiful music ever written was about our God and Savior.
I agree with him.

My favorite part was the Tenor performing "Comfort Ye My People."

The reality of the scripture being sung truly filled my soul.

 Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned:

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, 
Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain:

As he sang, I thought of walking in the valley; 
sometimes such low times.
The mountain tops are far off, so high, impossible to reach.

Every valley shall be exalted!

I thought of being on the mountain; at the top. 
It will be made low. 
The heights are brought down for something, SOMEONE, greater.

It is so good to remember...to praise...to give thanks...for the good news of Christmas.

The fudge and cookies afterwards were also very pleasant.

Happy Advent!

November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving - It's my Birthday!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful that today I am forty-something.

(I've decided to stop counting my birthdays.)

I am thankful for a lovely breakfast my amazing children prepared for me.


They included peppers in the eggs even though not one of them enjoy eating peppers. 
They did it just for me! Now that's love!


Noah knows what a woman wants. He dressed up and gave me chocolate!
Can you see the birthday banner in the back?


I love presents!


A cozy nightgown with matching slippers.
Just what I wanted! and my favorite color too!


This was my favorite gift. 
Four balloons representing, the sky, the sun, their heart, the moon.

Why would they want to give so much to me?
With all my faults, my children love me.

I am abundantly blessed.

One minute I can't keep from smiling from all my blessings.
The next minute I can't keep the tears flowing from all my losses.

This is a bittersweet day for me.

Through it all, God is good and I am thankful that He never changes.

The Lord gives and the Lord takes. 
Is only the giving good? 
No. Everything God does is good. 
We cannot measure His goodness by our feelings.

O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good; for His mercy endureth forever.

November 25, 2013

Tea Time


I am having...

Green Tea with mandarin orange.

What would you like?
Would you rather have coffee or I can serve you hot chocolate with marshmallows?

I brought home some fresh baked cinnamon rolls from my outing.
I'll warm one up for you.

I am feeling...

Glad to be home.

I was in Seattle all morning with Sophia. She now has braces!

Pedestrians, construction, detours, one-way streets, cement, parallel parking, traffic.

...So thankful for my quiet country life.
  
On my mind...

Time.

Wasn't God so good to give us time?

We don't need to forgive or endure in 10 year chunks...just this day, or hour, or moment, if need be.

Conversely,

What a pleasure it is to savor each joyful moment, counting them all and stacking them up as a wonderful treasure to go back to over and over again.

A good and perfect gift - time.

A couple pictures to share...



2013

Before the piano recital


2008

Backyard parade

November 22, 2013

Singing in the...




In keeping with the current craze to list "# of things you don't know about me" I thought I would share ONE.

I sing in the shower.

You too?

OK. I'll share another one, but you probably already know this, unless it is your first visit to The Times.

I enjoy making little songs from Scripture.

I recently wrote a tune using 2 Timothy 4:5-8. I like it. All the high notes echo nicely off the bathroom walls.

"But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, 
do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:

Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."

There's something about singing a verse that helps me to meditate on it more closely.  Today, I was really struck by the seriousness of this passage. Every word of it is amazing, but I will just share two ways this verse worked itself into my day.

Story 1: "I have fought a good fight."

Naomi and Noah are sitting on the couch doing school. Both in 5th grade, they share a book for their reading class. Even days, Middle gets to hold the book while Brother is in charge of the remote. (A Beka Academy on DVD)

Naomi: "I can't see the book. Stop wiggling it!"

Noah: "I'm not! I'm gonna pause the class. You're talking too much and distracting me."

Naomi: "I am not! You talk too much! and You wiggle too much!"

Noah: "No I don't!"

Noah throws his arms up in frustration. Naomi slyly kicks brothers foot. The next thing you know, Wam! Kabaam! "Stop It!" and so forth.

Mother comes to break it up.

"Children! Are you fighting a good fight?"

"YEAH!" they shout in unison.

Mother replies, "No, this is not a good fight."

"What's a good fight?" asks Naomi.

"A good fight is when there is a death or the enemy flees."

The children exchange confused glances.

"You should be fighting your selfishness; or your pride, or your anger. Kill it. Put it off and put on mercy, kindness, love."

~ ~ ~  Have you fought a good fight today?

Story 2: "I am now ready to be offered."

Abraham and Isaac walk up the mountain. God has asked the father to offer his son as a sacrifice. Isaac, the son, carries the wood. At the altar, he allows himself to be bound; to be offered. His father decided; his son yielded.

Isaac's willing readiness for whatever his father wanted is AMAZING.

God intervened; he provided a ram. I thought...

Am I now ready to be offered? Am I willing to yield to whatever my Father in heaven decides?

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12:1

Today was filled with the same pressures and conflicts of yesterday...even a couple more. The difference was my spirit was calm, as if I was walking up a mountain with my dear Father beside me.

Singing in the shower can really change the day's perspective!

November 17, 2013

Thinking about Him...

It used to be that when I heard "God's ways are higher than our ways" that I would think of tree tops and mountain peaks.


I would admit that yes, His ways are higher, too high to see from where I am standing, but I could see them in the distance. There was the outline, there was the top, therefore, they were understandable.

I believed that, though His ways were far above me, they were within reach. All it took was a lot of effort, struggle, searching.  When "life" happened and I couldn't understand, then I would crane my spiritual neck to glimpse the distance...to try and see the big picture.

Now I know. Now I know that his ways are past finding out.

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! Romans 11:33

Having a relationship with God is not like any other.  He's too amazing to visit with only once a week. I want to spend every minute with Him.

I haven't always thought this.

He used to be just a good friend. I was thankful to Him and for Him, and I would often turn to Him when I was in trouble. He usually had good insight to give me. Sometimes, I would do what He said. Other times, I would take the counsel of my friends or more likely than not, take my own counsel.

I knew what was best for me.

But life was hard. And it became harder. It seemed my life was always filled with conflict, fear, and pain. Soon, the counsel of friends fell flat. I didn't know what end was up let alone what was best for me. I turned to the Lord Jesus Christ.

He was an ever present help in trouble. I loved Him. I began to seek and search and struggle to get to the tree tops, the mountain peaks. But I never could!

One thing after another would leave me flat in the dust, Humiliated. Devastated. I had no answers.

It was in those humiliating circumstances that God, in his tender mercy, would reveal Himself to me. He would take me Himself to a mountain peak. I had become like a little child, small and dependent, able to be carried on his shoulders to high places. Content with wherever and whatever He wanted for me.

This is the blessing of suffering.

Suffering allows us glimpses into the heart and mind of our Father, of our Jesus, of our all-wise Holy Spirit.

We cannot reach the end of this, one of those "higher ways". Somehow, God takes us at our lowest point and makes it High. It is there, on our face, in the dust, that we learn things, we see things that we would never have seen otherwise.

This marriage separation has been one of my lowest times. I've had low times before, but it seems they were all just steps in a staircase leading down to this. Yet, it is here that God has shown me so much. I have begun to understand Him and know Him like never before.

Isn't that strange? I feel as if I have been walking down down down, but all this time, all this short life of mine, He has been leading me up up up to more of Himself.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:9

linking up with...

November 07, 2013

It's temporary.

Today is

Bleak, Wet, Cold, Dark.

And so...

I am delighting myself with memories of warm, and bright days.


Isn't Naomi a little "crack-up" in this picture? 
She looks as if she would wilt if not for the popsicle.


The cool joy of a water slide!



Summer enterprises.



Blue skies will come again, I'm sure of it.

I would like to be thankful for the grey dampness. I'm trying.

I'm thankful for a warm house.
I'm thankful for electricity and a warm bath.

Oh my, I'm SO thankful for that! It's one of my favorite things.



I'm thankful for a full pantry and fridge. We enjoy so much abundance.


And I'm thankful for these beautiful pictures Sophia took.



They remind me that Grey Skies are temporary.

And so are Sunny Days.



"It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord,
 and to sing praises unto thy name O most high." 



I am looking forward to the promise...
"That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus."





November 03, 2013

November!

"While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, 
and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night 
shall not cease."
Genesis 8:22



(click on the picture above to join in other daybooks)



For Today

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Outside our window...

A thick carpet of leaves, branches and pine needles.
We enjoyed a blustery storm yesterday.

I am thankful...

For all the lovely comments left on my blog and Facebook.

Thank you, if you are one of the lovely people who commented. You have encouraged me so much, and I am happy that we can share our Times with such loving people as you are.
Thank you, especially, for your prayers.

I think of that time when God comes to Ananias (Acts 9) and sends him to Saul "because he prayeth." God hears and acts on behalf of our prayers...they have worked to sustain me and my family.

I am wearing...

A black skirt and a burgundy blouse. I love this color burgundy ~ red with a hint of brown in it.
I am also wearing antique earrings from my mother...gold stars with deep red rubies in the center.

The points from the stars sometimes poke a person's cheek when I give hugs.
So, if you see me coming with open arms, WATCH OUT!

From the kitchen...

Well, let's see.

I had a simple lunch of fried eggs with shredded Parmesan and sliced avocado.
It was perfect with two pieces of cinnamon toast and Jasmine tea.

The children are not "home."
Is this their home? Or is that their home?
A separated husband and wife causes such chaos in the lives of the children.
Yet God's grace is sufficient. Does that sound like an excuse?

It's not.

It's my only hope.

Anyways, I have some things planned for our menu when the kids are here at the Main House:
French Toast
Tacos (of course)
Soup
Chicken sandwiches
...and more.

I am learning...

That God is glorified by FRUIT.

Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; John 15:8

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith.

When is this fruit most evident? During the tough times.

The branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine.

So, a fruitful life is by God's grace.

I am learning to be thankful for the suffering in my life.
How else can I bear fruit worthy of my Lord?

Love is delicious when responding to hate and rejection.
Joy is nutritious in gloomy situations.
Peace satisfies when fear is looming.

There is no such thing as "long suffering" without tough times.

O Taste and see that the Lord is good! 
Blessed is the man that trusts in him. 
Psalm 34:8

I am creating...

new traditions
new habits
new goals

S.L.O.W.L.Y.

We are living day by day at The Santos Times...one of our new habits.

I am going... 

to finally send off our blankets to VOM tomorrow afternoon. We had a few more trickle in.


I am remembering...

That Sophia and Naomi are waiting for me to make an entry in our "Mother/Daughter" Journals.


They each have their own to share with me.

I am reading...

"Her Mother's Hope" by Francine Rivers. Actually, I just started it today. Picked it up from the library on the recommendation of a friend. We'll see if it is good or not.

Also doing a Bible study with some girlfriends on



Around the house...

It is quiet.
I am getting refreshed for a new week of school and
 music lessons and all the bustle of being
Mom.

A quote to share...

And there are my children! My darling, precious children! 
For their sakes I am continually constrained to seek after an amended, a sanctified life; 
what I want them to become I must become myself”
~ Elizabeth Prentiss, Stepping Heavenward

Some of my favorite things...

Eating lunch with a view of the water, especially if that lunch is Fish Tacos.

A happy, peaceful smile from my children.

A few plans for the month:

Sophia gets braces.
All the kids have their first Piano Recital.
Music Olympics.
Thanksgiving.
My birthday.

Some picture thoughts to share:



On a hay ride with my lovies. You can't tell we are related, can you?



A pretty Autumn view last week.
Can you smell the crisp, cold air?

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