Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's Snowin' in the Pines

I may have been late to Sunday School this morning, but I DID get pictures of the third time (???) I have ever seen snowflakes appear from the sky over my childhood home!  It came down for a few hours but didn’t linger for play but oh how pretty it was falling on a backdrop of tall, straight pines.  Julia and I tromped around in pj’s and boots looking and clicking when we should have been getting ready.  As she said, "It is a White Day-After-Christmas!" and I say, a perfect Christmas in Dixie.  

(From my bedroom window)

After church, the cousins bundled up to document the surprise snowfall!  We may never get the chance again! 

(Hunter took the time to edit this one!  She does a great job and taught me a few tricks!)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Letter 2010

I am a sucker for quotes.  Some of the names tagged on the end of quotes I recognize, but most I don’t.  For all I know, the person could be an ax murderer with a random good thought. In any case, I like the way people put a thoughtful thing together with words.  Good ones usually make us read a little slower, then stop and think for a second, or a minute, an hour, or some, a lifetime.   The one I’ve been thinking about today is by Alexander Smith-- and incidentally, I think he’s fine.  Anyone born into a large family during the 1800‘s in a thatched house in the Scottish Lowlands must be a good guy, right?  (And his mother’s name was Christina.)  Here’s his good thought, “Christmas is the day that holds all time together.”  Holds all time together.  God created time and He transcends time.  He is not constrained by it as we are.  Christmas brings us the HOPE of eternal life, the possibility, if we choose it-- connecting the here and now to our eternal future with Him.  Jesus, the true gift of Christmas, stretches between the two-- and holds all time together.  Now, that I can ponder awhile. 
Here’s our update:
Our one bit of family news I didn’t share in my 2009 letter was we gave the children a Golden Retriever puppy last Christmas.  Gabriel.  I fought the good fight of “no” until one Wednesday night after work, I headed upstairs for the “Mommy check” and found Brighton barely awake, waiting to tell me some big news.  “Mom!  Guess what Daddy said?  We can get a dog when I am 10 and Julia is 12!!  Isn’t that exciting, Mom? I can’t wait!!”  Mind you, this was 4 years away at the time and he couldn’t sleep for his anticipation!  I went down like a pitifully folded paper airplane.  I waved the white “puppy for Christmas” flag and Jeff put Operation Gabriel in motion.  Only “dog people” understand why I share this bit of news.  Well, the Sanders house has not been the same since.  Not only do I have strange new cleaning gadgets around (I’d like to shake the hand of the woman-it HAD to be a woman- who came up with Swiffer line-oh, and the Fur-minator!), we have seen our backyard bushes gnawed to nubs, padding chewed out of numerous bike helmets (Brighton is currently riding the neighborhood with his batting helmet atop his head), outdoor furniture fraying in places we never thought possible, and teeth marks on things that cause us just to shake our heads and wonder if we should just feed him wood chips!  You know what I am going to say next-- he’s such a good dog.  Really, he is.  
The kids are doing well.  Julia is almost 9 and Brighton just turned 7, which makes them in 3rd and 1st grade.  I am still teaching them at home and for the most part, our days go pretty smoothly.  “Bumpy” days would be those that include one or more sleepyheads, doing Math at the speed of a snail with a hangover, a teacher distracted by laundry, her phone, her computer, her kitchen floor in desperate need of “swiffering”, Brighton asking me to call “Mr. Saxon” because “This math is not right!” or finishing all his work for the day in an hour not knowing what in the world to do with him for the rest of the day, not being able to find ONE pencil, Julia looking at her math but being in a galaxy far, far away, siblings that act like they’ve never heard the word kindness or patience in regards to each other, Brighton beating Julia in a math drill, and last, but definitely not the least, a teacher in need of a high sugar snack.  I relish the days that they cheer each other on, we take a field trip, they finish Math before lunch, we get to read into the afternoon to our hearts content, and I can say, at the end of the day, that I was a nice Momma.  
Julia still enjoys ballet, piano and sewing.  She’s the one who sews on the buttons at our house..  She’s my child that loves to read and I have enjoyed reading childrens’ classics I never read right along with her.  She is my “can do” girl, ever ready and happy to help whenever I need it.  
Brighton enjoyed his second season of baseball this year.  His genuine, enthusiastic love for people delights his recipients.  He continues to enjoy snapping together amazing Lego creations, playing the piano, drawing whatever is on his mind and being a catalyst for Julia’s sanctification.  
Jeff’s work with Tarrant NET ( is going well.  The highlight of our year came in October on “Faith in Action” weekend when about 85 churches (roughly 12,000 volunteers) joined together on one weekend and served our city by working on a myriad of projects around Fort Worth.  Many wonderful things took place and most importantly, God was glorified by the unity displayed and the good works accomplished.  Glory to Him.  And Glory to the Son Who holds all time together.

“While they were there, the TIME came for the baby to be born...”  Luke 2:6  Amen

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Waiting with Words

There's a familiar charge in the air.  To "cope" with all this Christmas electricity Brighton draws and Julia writes.  Her poem is simple and sweet and I thought it was worth sharing even though her first line is wishful memories from last Christmas!     

Christmas is Coming
Snow is falling
Wind is blowing
Christmas is coming.
Cookies are baking
Children are playing
Christmas is coming.
Hot chocolate is steaming
and children are reading.
Christmas is coming.
The scent of trees
And joy and glee
Christmas is coming.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lessons from Imogene

Some people say I over protect my children-- that maybe I shelter them too much.  It has been said that I have pulled the boundary lines in too tightly.  I’m open.  I’ll talk about  it and here is what my question would be-- Is that really possible?  On one hand, in certain circumstances, I guess it IS possible, but, on the other hand, here?   Inside the city limits of Fort Worth?  Really?  Just living life exposes them to PLENTY- making trips to the grocery store (thinking of the eye catchers at the check out), having friends--churched and unchurched, chatting with our waiter or waitress, watching a baseball game on TV, seeing billboards and advertisements, visiting dear family or special friends who may simply do things differently.  

There is a certain delight in sheltering them from some things.  It’s ALL coming eventually, right? They will see it all and know it all whether they like it or not.   Oh, they know a few things I wish they didn’t, but it was time.....whether I like it or not.  One of those “delights” is being able to address a mature matter face to face in the safety of our den, or around the dinner table, or reading about unfamiliar situations all cuddled up on the couch BEFORE it sends shock waves throughout their little central nervous system.  It’s significant for me to know their initial reaction- the reaction I have regrettably lost through all my years- about something grievous or inappropriate or just downright mischievous.   Obviously, at times, their reactions are right on and with the right material, down right funny.  A couple of weeks ago, I chose some purposeful exposure.

I began reading Barbara Robinson’s The Best Christmas Pageant Ever to them and you would have thought, by their faces and gasps, I was reading some cheesy grocery store romance novel to them.  Oh my.  I had the hardest time maintaining a straight face, agreeing with their incredulous expressions with my eyes, eyebrows and the shaking of my head.  They were horrified, but also intrigued by the Herdman characters.   If Brighton asked once, he asked a hundred times to look at the group picture of the six kids.  It’s a simple pencil drawing but has no trouble communicating their boisterous badness.  BAD---NESS.  These kids are just horrible.   They run wild in the neighborhood, set fire to things, spread lies about other kids, steal, smoke cigars, plant poison ivy in their front yard, have a bobcat for a “pet”, say bad words (though we never actually see any of them in the book), ridicule and mock everyone in the school and the list goes on.   Needless to say, my kids were WIDE-EYED and motionless any time we picked up the book to read and they always begged for more.  I haven’t figured out if this is good or bad-- see how this naughtiness is so interesting, so mysterious to them??  I want to be the one who digs into it with them-- to talk ALL about it and remove that “mysteriousness” from it like a magician revealing his secrets.  Not so appealing anymore.  Not that impressed anymore.  

This story definitely turns sweet, but only a couple of times.  My favorite part is when the director of the pageant realizes the Herdman children don’t know the Christmas story.  At all.  Nada.  Their questions are genuine, “Who were the shepherds?”  “Where did they come from?” “What’s an inn?”  “What happened first?”  And my favorite, one of the children demanding, “Begin at the beginning!!”   Their honest interpretation is that Joseph was a sort of dead beat because the Bible doesn’t record him explaining his wife’s dire situation.  Imogene let’s out a couple of “MY GOD(s)!!”  in disbelief of how the couple was treated.  “Not even for Jesus??”  she exclaims.  When the Herdmans find out they placed the Baby Jesus in a feed box, in exasperation one of the children yells out,  “Where was the Child Welfare?”  And maybe the most horrific realization was that Jesus was “just born and [they were] already trying to kill him!”   They were not at all happy when they found out that King Herod died in his sleep as an old man.  The Herdmans came up with a much more exciting and vindictive end to his life to conclude the pageant but the director wouldn’t allow it, of course.  I won’t give away the last chapter-- the actual pageant.  It does not disappoint and for some, you might want a tissue handy.  

It was great for my children to hear this book and see the Christmas story through children who had only heard the amazing account only a few days before.  I liked a lot about the book but the key for me was that my kids saw how the story of Jesus and His COMING TO US can soften even the seemingly hardest hearts they EVER will encounter.  And when they do encounter these hard hearts, maybe they won’t be intimidated or intrigued.  I hope they remember Imogene Herdman and what His story did to her heart. 

 I am 100% sure the book will be requested next year.

“Hey!!!  Unto to you a child is born!”

Monday, December 13, 2010

It's Worth the Trip....... Dude.

The kids and I spent some time at our children's museum this afternoon and in honor of the Christmas season, most of the activities were about lights, shadows, reflections and such.  This is us peering through one end of a mirrored triangular tunnel.  When B saw these pictures he said, "I have LOTS of Mommas to love me and lots of sisters to keep!"

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Growing Up (and a little rambling)

I always wondered if we could do it-- if she would do it.  For ten years I remember decorating my childless home wondering if I had a daughter, if I would want her help or more importantly, would she want to help?  I wanted to be a Mom who could pull off both-- wanting her to help which also means, letting go of “just right” AND being a Mom a daughter would WANT to help.  This year, together, we did it in half the time.  She was even the one who helped me pull it ALL out of the attic!  She was downstairs early on “Black Friday” ready to decorate the house for the birthday of the ages.  At one point she was handing me trim while I was on the ladder and I stopped to tell her, “Julia, in all our years to come, whatEVER it takes to make this fun for you, just let me know.  Can I get you some more hot chocolate?  Candy?”  I remember the last time I made such a big deal about her helping me.  I was about to begin the dreaded washing and scrubbing of the apples (wax coating and caramel don't do well together) for our caramel apple party we throw for our neighbors the night before Thanksgiving and she said,  “Mom, if we do this together, it should be fun!”  Well, she was right.  It was fun.  Her attitude made it much more enjoyable.

About half way through the mantle garland, she was tying ribbon and she stopped and fixed bug-eyes on me.  As serious as the Pope, she said, “Mom! What if my husband wants to put a big blow up snowman in our front yard or Santa and his reindeer on the roof?! What will I do?!”  (Sorry if you are a “blow up” fan.  Our annual game is shooting them with imaginary BB guns as we drive past them. I am the reigning sharp shooter champion 3 years running, but if you ask Jeff, he will argue that.  He always does.  Don’t believe anything he says.)  The dire look on her face made me laugh-- loud.  She didn’t wait for any comment from me.  She put her ribbon down and headed straight for the office where she knew her Daddy was.  This was a disturbing new thought for her and she needed to talk about it.  When she came back, not quite as ruffled, I asked her what Daddy said, “We need to pray about that.”  Of course.  I hadn’t thought of that prayer.

She’s growing up.  Her thoughts are growing up.  Her taste buds are growing up.  Her preferences are growing up.  We needed an ALL red Christmas dress for the children’s part in the cantata last weekend.  We had holiday dresses from last year that still fit, but not ALL red and I could not justify purchasing another dress.  We were in Dillards the weekend before the cantata and walked right by a slew of RED dresses and she wanted to look.  As she fingered all the ruffles, the fabric, the straps, I gawked at the price tags.  No.  No.  No. It just confirmed the fact that we didn’t need another one.  I told her in my normal no-nonsense, black and white way, “No.”   But I was curious which one she’d I asked her.  Of course it was the one that looked like a prom dress, complete with spaghetti straps and rhinestone embellishments--- and what threw me was the chest insert!  The mannequin in the “girls” department needed bigger undergarments than I.  What??  After slight confusion and rechecking my whereabouts,  I was just mad.  One, that they had inserts in the dress and two, that Julia picked it!  My “madness” ruined the great conversation that COULD have been- I started pointing to every “hoochy” looking dress ranting, “Just look at this one!  It’s a size SIX!!  Does this look like a Kindergartner’s dress??  And this one?  The ruffles barely cover the behind!?”  And then I got to the one she picked out, “And Julia,  ‘this’ (frantically waving my hand around the chest area)--- you don’t have “THIS” going on!”  (Regretted it immediately but it didn’t stop me.)  “If you were to wear this now, WHAT would you pick at 15?  What would be special for you to wear then?”   She walked off, head down and left me there with my hand on a couple of overdesigned dresses for 8 year olds.  Then my head went down.  Oh, I felt I was right, but I communicated it terribly.  Classic Krista.

Yes, I got a do-over later, thankfully.  It went much better than my tantrum I threw in Dillards.  I am really okay with my anger, but not my expression of it to Julia.  My unchecked emotions made it feel like it was her fault somehow.  The dress she liked was pretty-- just not appropriate for an almost 9 year old.  What is it with us, with culture, that wants our kids to grow up yesterday?  Especially our girls.  Just read the first couple of chapters of Dobson’s book Bringing Up Girls.  The ways the advertising world markets specifically to our little girls is enough to bring on a need for the Pepto Bismol and the statistics of the success rates of these marketing ploys makes you want to move to a compound in North Dakota or something. Yeah, that’s the answer.  I know.  Bring on the sound (absent of ranting or frantic-ness) counsel of my husband.

(Let’s establish this first--I think it goes without saying but I know how Julia dresses doesn’t make her "godly".   Any Mom reading this can understand concerns with the ever shrinking female wardrobe.)

Just when I am whining to Jeff about how will we ever raise good kids in this ever- worsening quagmire of culture, he reads me this.  “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” 2 Peter 1:3

I know that verse.  It was the fresh air I needed.  I had been thinking of the quagmire too long.  It was the perfect application to make me stop and realize several things:  I have His divine power to raise my kids.  I just need to live in it, walk in it.  He will multiply grace and peace in my parenting as I live in Him.  Even in this culture of 2010 that seems to prowl around, hover over and pick off our children, what He offers us STILL works for training in life and godliness.  His Truth is forever applicable.  We can still live, in His power, to show the world His glory and His excellence.  Praise His Name!  Isn’t His Word great?

As far as her clothes go--my prayers for her (and for myself!) are that she would have the discernment to chose things that are age appropriate, the sensitivity to dress in a way that honors her male friends, the wisdom to focus more on the beauty of her “inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight”.  (I Peter 3:4)

As far as blow-up lovin' future hubby-- I told her later that night that if her husband wanted blow-ups in the front yard AND was a Jesus freak, that’d be okay.    

Mortimer's Manger- Exceedingly, Abundantly

When I read the book Mortimer's Christmas Manger by Karma Wilson a few years ago, I was hooked.  I decided we'd read it every year-- a GREAT excuse AND purpose to make a gingerbread house.  You'll have to read it for yourself to find out who Mortimer is, and why he wants a manger, and what he gets as an answer to his prayer.  That's where Ephesians 3:20 comes in.  It's perfect.  

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Awe in Markers and Pencil

This is the message of Christmas:  We are never alone.  ~Taylor Caldwell

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”  Matthew 1:22-23

I look forward to these every December. These drawings are just one of the things I'll miss as the children get older- their imagination in markers or pencil.  They wasted no time in getting started this year... putting to paper this miraculous story.  The first ones appeared bedside the night we put out our special creche, a wedding present from Jeff's sister.  Something else I'll miss are questions like this one from Brighton just yesterday, "Mom, if we went to Bethlehem, would we fit?" If there was no room for Joseph, Mary and the Baby, how in the world could there be room for us?

So, I wonder, when will they draw their last nativity scene?   When will they no longer be enamored by the Baby King?  When will being the one who gets to place Him the manger not be the coveted job?  Will they lose the awe of this mysterious story?  Will I?  Have I? 

May it never be.