Sunday, December 30, 2007

More on Christmas and a bit of New Year's Day

Anji's sure right: we'd gotten woefully behind with the blog. So behind, in fact, that I just went out to look at it and found out that Anji had posted! 

Bless her "pea-pickin' heart" (as my dear ol' Dad would say).

But that doesn't keep me from feeling guilty (darnit) about not posting, especially knowing that you're all just waiting... no... anticipating... no... desperately counting the minutes... until we post again!

Christmas was weird (but good) like always. No one admits it too often, but Christmas is pretty much the biggest letdown of the entire year. You prepare and you decorate and you purchase and you pray for snow and you send cards, then "POOF!" it's outta there in one day! Maybe that's why there's that traditional song about the 12 days of Christmas. That guy, while completely broke by day 5 (a.k.a., "the day of the golden rings"), was probably thinking "man, Christmas is just too short; how could I make it longer?" I can relate to that guy.

Our family had a good day (even with a curmudgeonly father and gimpy patriarch in tow). We opened gifts in the morning, ate in the afternoon, and wonders of wonders, we finished Jotham's Journey on Christmas Day. For those of you who aren't familiar, Jotham's Journey is an adventure story set around and tied to the true Christmas story (the one about Christ). It's meant to be read each night of the Advent season to prepare our minds and hearts for the Christmas day celebration. For Anji, Emery, Asa, and me it was helpful in doing so. Jack and Sam? Notsomuch. A couple more years and the tradition's impact will grow. The Lord grants us grace for our efforts with our children, no matter how seemingly frustrated we are or distracted they may be.

We attended church here in Cookeville for the first time today with the Cookeville Primitive Baptist Church. It's a small congregation that's focused on the simplicity of the first century church meeting: a cappella singing of traditional hymns, biblical teaching from a pastor/elder, and joyful fellowship. It was funny, but our family of six nearly doubled the meeting size for the day. We were graciously invited to lunch after the service and enjoyed the fellowship with other Christians immensely. Whether we return or not I don't know, but it was refreshing for our spirit to join a meeting again.

The new year is upon us and we're joining some local acquaintances for an evening celebration with their family on the 31st. Snow, as Anji mentioned, is expected to come that night or early on the 1st. We welcome it but we concede to you Washingtonians that snow on New Year's Day doesn't beat your white Christmas! 

We pray that you and your family are richly blessed in body and spirit in 2008! Stay tuned for more Tennessee news!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Dreadfully behind!

The sad thing about the following note is that it is to "catch up" since we kind of advertised our blog with the Christmas card/photo/note only to have y'all find it old news. Sorry. Hope we didn't lose anyone!!

Asa turned 5 and we had another intimate family dinner and celebration. He chose spaghetti for dinner. He also was rather persistent about wanting that number 5 candle - it was becoming more and more important the longer we cruised the grocery store.

We had a dusting of snow on December 16th - oh, how lovely. It didn't get much more than the photo can show but it was a delight. It was gone a couple days later as the temperature stayed rather low for a while. We've got snow for New Year's Day in the forecast but we're pretty skeptical. Locals say that the "snow season" is January through March. We've been getting reports back from home about all the snow there - after all that rain. For the first time in a LOOOOONG time it snowed on Christmas Day in the Battle Ground, WA area. And we're not there... bummer. Well, maybe this year the Titans will go to the playoffs and WIN!!! Yeah, I couldn't make that sound sincere even in print, huh?

Kurt's parents came for Christmas. We enjoyed having their company. Jay was a little "gimpy" as he is having issues with his left foot and is on crutches. No matter though. We were in for the festivities anyway as the boys opened packages, we feasted on Christmas ham (that's just a ham eaten on Christmas, you know - I don't cook it any different... ha). Even Lucy was jazzed with her wrapped cookies to open and the fireplace blazing for the after treat nap. We missed everyone at home. The holidays intensify homesickness and our whole family felt it. If you are reading this, know you are loved by us.

My recovery has finally made a turn for the better. I have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and panic attacks. The medication has finally started to make a difference. Apparently the gall bladder thing was the "straw that broke the camel's back" and threw me physically into this rather bizarre funk of sorts. It's hard to describe and if I didn't experience it I would not really be able to relate to the condition. I've been blessed with a competent doctor, a supportive husband, and a really huge amount of encouragement from my mother and sister. My family rocks!

Until later, may the peace of Christ reign over you today and always.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Come ye thankful people, come!

It's been quite a while since I, the "fearing man" in the title of this blog, posted up here. Anji's been encouraging me to post, but I've been dragging my virtual feet. But now here I am, back in the blogging saddle, ready to give you all the scoop that you've been anticipating!

Anji is getting better, day-by-day. She's still struggling with her energy level and the leftover pain and effects of the surgery. The good news is that she's been given a pretty clean bill of health as a result of all of the testing she endured. Her heart is good (in more ways than one, my friends) and her big issue now is acid reflux or at least what seems to be symptomatic of acid reflux. The bad news is that she doesn't feel a whole lot better. I guess that's a bit difficult to explain. We anticipated a significant change after the surgery based upon the doctor's feedback, but have yet to see Anji experience it. We continue to covet your prayer for a full recovery.

Our home is coming together slowly but surely. The garage now actually houses both the van and the multitude of boxes that we have yet to unpack. With the weather turning cold, I sometimes pull the van out of the garage and let the boys ride their tricycles and bikes as a diversion from the general hooliganism that ensues when four boys have spent just a bit too much time inside. The house is certainly large enough to accommodate their playtime needs, but the volume level and intensity level often increases to a point where neither Anji nor I can tolerate another moment. We still have very little furniture and no window coverings to speak of, so the reverberation of joyous screaming often becomes difficult to bear.

I have established a home office once again. I reside in the "upper room" (a.k.a., the "bonus room") and for the most part find it a workable situation. The door at the bottom of the stairs does not lock, giving Jack and Asa in particular the feeling that they have free access to come upstairs and play or ask questions or generally disrupt my workday. It is, however, far better than driving into an office where I would only hear the sound of the heating and air conditioning running. Life is good and I am blessed to be able to do what I do how I have chose to do it. My new boss is exceptionally helpful and I am beginning to become busy. For a while, I was stricken by the lack of activity. I know that probably sounds strange to some of you, but having come from a position where telephone calls and emails poured in like Niagara Falls on a daily basis, it is rather shocking to have one or two calls and maybe five or ten emails a day. I'm sure it will change as it always seems to do.

The Lord blessed us for our Thanksgiving holiday and we are looking forward to the upcoming holidays. For those of you who do not know it, today is Saint Nicholas Day. We have taken this holiday and made it a special "kick-off" for our Christmas season. Tonight, Anji will make a Mediterranean meal and I will read a story or two from the great saint's life. His story, while embellished over the years, is one of faithfulness to God and to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Saint Nicholas lost his parents to the plague when he was young, spent his youth under the tutelage of a faithful uncle, became the Bishop of Myra as a young man, provided for the poor and destitute from his own means, and was imprisoned and persecuted severely for his faith by the Roman Empire. Upon his release from prison, he continued his faithful service and even counseled the great Byzantine Emperor Constantine during his reign. With the Christmas season becoming so commercial and selfish, we are joyful to move our focus to one who was, in essence, an example of true religion in practice. We humbly pray that you too might have such a focus during this time of year. Certainly Christmas is not simply about a baby in a manger, but rather about the coming of an all-conquering Savior and glorious King!

All of that said, I wanted to share with you my prayer from Thanksgiving Day. In the past, I've "winged it" when praying, but this year I wanted to purposefully remember certain things as we came before our Lord with thankfulness:
Lord, this year we have been blessed by your gracious hand in ways too numerous to count.
This meal set before us upon the table represents only a small measure of your richness and provision.
We are humbled as a family and as part of this nation which was established under your rule and by your hand.
For your gifts are many and your mercy is great.
Let us never forget that all good things come through you.
Now, as we begin our feast, may your holy spirit come among us and call into remembrance those who have gone before us into glory, those who are fighting for freedom and justice in foreign lands, and those who are waiting upon their return.
We join together in this prayer with your church across our nation and thank you, humbly asking for your continued blessing and guidance in the years ahead.
We thank you for your greatest gift, Jesus, and pray in his holy name.
"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." (Psalm 100:4-5)

We wish you a thankful and joyous season dear friends and family.