Friday, December 16, 2011

Seeing things differently

So often when you see a nativity scene you find Mary with her hands folded in prayer, like this:
I figure the artists and model-makers present Mary that way because... well.. they have to do something with her hands.  Joseph often has a shepherd's crook, a shepherd is holding a sheep, and the wise men (which shouldn't actually be in a manger scene anyway) are holding gifts.  Mary is empty handed, and folding them in prayer looks less awkward than wringing them in worry.

Of course, I know our little drawings and figurines aren't actual depictions of what that night in Bethlehem really looked like.

But still, it has bothered me.  Why would Mary be praying to her newborn son, even if he was the Son of God?

Then one day I saw those praying hands in a whole new way.  What if Mary wasn't praying to Jesus, but over him?  For him?

Motherhood is challenging enough in any circumstances, but can you imagine the responsibility of knowing you are raising up God's Son?  The Savior of all mankind?  What did Mary imagine in Jesus' future as she watched him sleeping in the manger?  Surely she couldn't have imagined the way he would be rejected and killed.  

Even so, I look at my own children sleeping in their beds and think of the weighty responsibilities and pressures of motherhood.  I wonder about what their futures hold, and I pray.  For them.  For me.

So now when I see Mary kneeling at the manger, hands folded in prayer, I am reminded to bend my knees  and my heart and pray for my own little ones.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Nice people

I had a disturbing thought this morning:

Hell is full of "nice" people.

Sure, there are plenty of the "bad guys" there, too.  Murderers and abusers and villains.

But there are also people who smiled and laughed.  Did kind things.  People that loved and gave.  People that went to church and helped others.  Nice people.  "Good" people.

In eternal torture.

Why?  Because the division between heaven and hell isn't about being good in this life.  If it was, heaven would be empty.  Because no matter how good and nice we think we are, we are still selfish at heart.  We still think ugly thoughts and occasionally do or say not nice things.

The division between heaven and hell is determined by our: #1 - admitting that we aren't actually good, and that we do wrong, #2 - realizing that Jesus took the punishment for our wrongs, and #3 - asking him to forgive us and rescue us from a life (both here on earth and in eternity) separated from him.

It's a decision, an action, so simple that people balk at it, thinking they must do more.  But we can never do enough.  All we can do is actively accept the gift that has been extended to each of us, individually.

We weren't created to live on earth and "be good".  We were created to know God, and to worship him.  Our sinful nature separates us from him and that can only be fixed by humbly admitting that we can't work our way to him but can only know him through Jesus.

But the world wants us to believe we are all good people.  Many, many "good people" have bought into that lie.

That is why some of the nicest people we know are headed for hell.

That, my friends, is a heartbreaking thought.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sparkly Candy Canes

Not an original idea, but I didn't mark the blog where I first saw it.  Oops.

Simple enough project.

Paint a wrapped candy cane with glue.

Sprinkle with glitter.  

Let dry. Flip, paint, sprinkle, let dry again.

And probably eat. We'll find out closer to (or even after) Christmas if the glue seeped into the wrappers or not. :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas Playdough

We've made homemade playdough plenty of times before, but this was my first time trying scented playdough.

I love it!
I used this recipe from No Time for Flashcards (substituting cream of tartar for the alum).  I read a suggestion in the comments to dissolve the salt in the boiling water before mixing with the flour.  That has to be the most genius playdough tip ever!  The dough is so nice and soft and not gritty!

We divided our dough into two batches.  

One we colored red and added red glitter and lots of cinnamon.
The other we left white and added iridescent glitter and mint extract.

The mint turned out with a stronger, more recognizable scent.  I can't imagine how much cinnamon it would take to get a good strong cinnamony smell!

We've been storing our playdough in the fridge.  It softens up nicely for play.  One batch even survived after a night in the freezer.  *Ahem.*  Seems someone wanted to freeze his "Christmas cookies".  

Happy playdoughing!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tyler did it.

And then he called her "Brooky".

And he's been calling her that ever since. :)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Digital Scrapbooking Giveaway

I learned a long time ago that Me + Scrapbooking was never going to work out, no matter how much I wanted it to.  

Thankfully I've got some other interests to fall back on. ;)

But if scrapbooking is your thing, you might be interested in the giveaway from my blog friend Karen over at Candid Diversions.  Hurry, because the giveaway closes this Sunday night! (Dec 4th)

My Memories Software Giveaway

If you decide to enter, give Karen a hello and tell her I sent you, will ya?  :)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Brooklyn: Two Months

Brooklyn had a 2-month photoshoot this week.

I am reaping the benefits of being in the good graces of a hobby photographer turning pro. 

And as much as I love these pictures, I think I'm going to do whatever it takes to stay that way. :)  I mean if a person wants to build a portfolio, who am I to stand in the way, right? I do what I can to help.  Me and Miss B. 

You can see a bigger sampling of Brooklyn's pics by visiting the Simple Journeys Photography blog or on facebook.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Let the countdown begin!

I am determined to try as much as possible to make Christmas more about a season than One Big Day for my boys.  My theory is if you spend all your time anticipating the Big Event and not enjoying all the little things that make Christmas special then you are setting yourself up for a let-down.  

And yet, in a tremendous case of self-contradiction, we have five, count 'em five countdown gizmos going on.

In the boys' room we have an oldie from my childhood, the DecemBear:
My mom hemmed this up and sewed a little stuffed bear when we were kids.  The bear moves around to a different location each day until he "finds" Christmas.  
For some reason I do not know, I consider this piece of tradition as belonging to my sister, just on loan to us until her own kiddos are old enough to enjoy it.  We've never even discussed it, yet I make sure to take extra care of it for her family. (Hey Kristin.... do you want the DecemBear???)

Also in the boys' room in the paper chain they made earlier this week.  Since we have so many activities counting down to December 25th (and since we'll be gone for several days leading up to that day) I am considering calculating the chain the countdown to our trip to see family the week before Christmas.  That would also allow more than one boy to tear off a link each day.

Just for fun the boys colored up this freebie printable this week also.  We will glue on an ornament a day until we add the star on December 25th:
You can download one too at

We have two new countdowns this year (and one from last year that I left packed away this time... that would have made six!).  One is this add-a-cookie-magnet set, a recent gift from Grandma:
And finally, the subtract-some-candy garland.  

Looks like it's going to be a busy (and sweet!) month ahead!