Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Pearls

Life Beautiful by Margaret McSweeney

During a quiet moment after Thanksgiving, I started reading my parents' stack of love letters that I recently found in a storage box. As a Christmas gift to you, I would like to share my father's words to my mother written to her during Christmas 1949. This incredible "hug from heaven" has been a tangible affirmation that Pearl Girls has true meaning and great worth for women throughout the world. I pray that God will continue to bless this ministry and outreach. May we all realize that the grit in our lives can be transformed into grace through the love of God.

This is what I found written on a tiny folded card inscribed with "Christmas Greetings" on the front: Christmas 1949

My Dearest Carolyn,
Truly a jewel is a thing of beauty, but a life that is lived to serve others and to glorify our Christ, such as yours, is my dearest, a far surpassing gem in radiance and beauty. Pearls to me, symbolize this "Life Beautiful" that you have achieved, Carolyn. Each pearl is a result of a great hurt to the oyster's life. But the little mollusk builds an iridescent coat around this source of hurt, and as a result, the precious pearl comes into being. Life is like that too. If we, like the pearl, can make of our hurts the basis of a thing of beauty, then we can bear witness to an on-looking world how Christians can overcome through Christ, blows that are seemingly insurmountable. At this happiest season of the year, I give thanks to God for you, Carolyn - my Pearl of Great Price. Your Claude

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The death of Twin A has definitely been my "pearl" this year. Although I do not own any tangible pearls, the pearls that I do have are, like the oyster described above, a result of pain and hurt. I do hope that as I grieved and mourned my precious child, others looked on at the many, many ways Jesus was comforting me in my time of need. Without Christmas, there would be no Jesus, and without Jesus, there would be no point to living. Thank you, Jesus, for pearls.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

CHRISTmas

A busy, fun-filled week is behind us and another one is ahead. Last week the little kids had their Christmas program at preschool on Wednesday and they all looked so cute! Ta and T.G. were both reindeers, and Teagan was an elf- precious! This upcoming week, the kids and I will be baking our Christmas cookies, having friends over for a cookie exchange, and just enjoy being together as a family. I am looking forward to spending time with them in the quietness of our house as we prepare for Christmas.

Friday was Th’s last day at his school. When school resumes on January 4th, he will be attending our zoned school. It was a sad day as we both loved his school but I just did not think he was learning as much as he should under the supervision of his classroom teacher. TJ and I met with the principal to discuss our options and although she did offer to move him to a different classroom, I didn’t want Th to have to explain to his friends why he was being moved. Although moving to a new school will be an adjustment, it will be easier to “start fresh” in a new environment rather than simply down the hall. He is sad at leaving yet excited about making the change. I can so relate as I moved a lot as a child. He is a sweet boy so I have no doubts he'll make friends quickly!

Speaking of Th, my heart is so thankful for the many ways the Lord is working in his young life. Every morning I wake up before anyone else in order to do my devotions. I like to drink my coffee and read my bible in the peace and quiet of the house. I finish just as the kids wake and come downstairs for breakfast. Th has obviously picked up on this habit of mine because for the past week, he has been joining me. He reads his bible and takes notes in a notebook that he has. When he’s finished, he puts it all away in a special spot so he knows where it is. At night, he sleeps with his bible in his bed. What is he studying so diligently? Christmas.

In our house, we keep the focus of Christmas on Christ as much as possible and talks of Santa are kept to a minimum. As a result, the children understand the reason we celebrate Christmas and this year, Th has made it his mission to study the infancy and childhood of Jesus. He is doing this by way of a bible study, one that he has undertaken all on his own. Since starting this study, he has learned that the Wise Men did not see Jesus as a newborn baby but rather sometime later but before age 2 (Matthew 2). Every time he makes a new discovery, he shares them with us, which is very exciting! I love to see him grow in his knowledge of the Lord as that knowledge is what will guide him through life. He is learning this important lesson at a young age and I am thankful for that as I was not as fortunate. I had to endure many hard lessons before I realized Who is control and how the consequences of my sinful choices affect my future.

Teagan is crying so it’s off to console her. . . going to be a long night as she would not take a nap today. She’s teething and not feeling very well.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Reflecting on Psalm 23

A Psalm of David. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.

He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

~Psalm 23
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I have been thinking about Twin A a lot this past week. I don’t know why, but I have been. And I still get sad and cry, mourning the little life that once was. This morning, in my daily bible reading, I read this passage. It is a very familiar passage as I’ve read it numerous other times. But, for some reason, today I really took notice of the words and thought about what they were saying. I think I wrote before how the Lord gives me a verse (or passage) when I really need it, and I really needed this one today. I needed to know how much He provides for me, how much He cares for me.

I shall not want. That means the Lord will take care of me; I shall want nothing. Amazing!

He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. God will give me the rest I so desperately need. I’m not talking about rest as in sleep (although that is part of it), I mean the rest from worry, fear, anxiety, etcetera that deplete my soul and cause much grief in my life. And He does it because His reputation is on the line (for His name’s sake).

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. I realize I am not near death, but I sure have been forced to deal with death in recent months. It is comforting to know that God is with me and God will comfort me as I continue to walk through the valley (for His Word says so!). Plus, since it is a valley, I must be heading up a new mountain, meaning the low period in my life will come to an end. . . eventually.

My cup runs over. The Lord has given me more than I deserve and I am truly grateful.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. God is good and merciful so of course they will accompany us forever. And, because I am a child of God, I will dwell in the presence of the Lord for all eternity. How exciting!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Taylor Ann, and other stuff!

For those who don’t already know, last Saturday we found out we are expecting another girl. TJ picked the name Taylor, and her middle name will be Ann, after my feisty 95-year-old Italian grandmother. Personally I was hoping for a boy simply since my last two children have been girls, but the important thing is that she is healthy and seems to be doing well. I go back to the doctor in about 2 weeks, but I can feel her kicking and moving around so that is very reassuring in terms of her well-being. I still think Twin A was a boy and it’s funny because when the boys talk about Twin A, they also refer to “him”, too.

The Christmas season is upon us in full-force! At preschool we are busy decorating ornaments and other gifts for the children to give to their parents, practicing songs for our Christmas performance on the last day of school, and I am implementing cookie baking/decorating as part of the children’s learning the final few days of preschool. At home we are still trying to find a spare moment to go cut down our Christmas tree. TJ decorated the outside of the house before we left for Ohio so the outside looks great, but inside I haven’t put up any decorations since we still don’t have a tree. We were hoping to go this morning but it’s too cold to spend 2 ½ hours outside, plus it’s supposed to rain. Cold and wet does not equal fun! We are going to try and go tomorrow afternoon in between church services, but again it will depend upon the weather. However, despite the lack of indoor decorations the kids are beyond excited!

We have several Christmas parties to attend, two of which are this upcoming week/weekend. We are excited as it is always nice to reconnect with friends we haven’t seen in a while, as well as enjoy good food and great company. We have another party the following week and a “cookie-making” play date the week after- whew! What a busy, but blessed, time of year to be able to spend it with such great people! I can’t wait as I love this time of year!

I am also excited because the first week of January my sis is going to be induced with her second child, another girl. I wish so badly I could go to Ohio to be with her, but thankfully my mom is there and able to help her. My sis and I have grown so close over the past couple of years and I hate she lives so far away. Our children get along so well and I miss being near family, especially now that my entire family is in Ohio. I can’t wait for my mom to retire and move down here- only a few more years! For now, I’ll have to settle on only seeing them every two to three months, and the time in between really does go by quickly. For certain my family will be visiting when I have Taylor, and that is only a couple of months away (I can’t believe it!).

I’m off to start my day. TJ and I are going Christmas shopping, so I have to get the kids ready to go to their respective places for the afternoon/evening while we shop. I’m looking forward to spending time alone with TJ as it has been a while since we’ve had the chance. I also need to finish the laundry and go to the grocery store this morning. Have a great day!