Saturday, December 27, 2008

Day Trip Up the Mountain

(yeah, so I just used this song... it's a good one and it fits!)

We took a little day trip with the family that we have visiting from out of town. We thought we'd take them to do something we always enjoy, visit the Hualapai Mountains. We always like to have the opportunity to show off our little "secret" treasure. It's yet relatively undiscovered by the Phoenicians, and therefore still relatively unspoiled and uncrowded, still quite nice and quaint. It's a great view up there, and usually the elk and the deer hang out just outside the windows, grazing on bales of hay left for them by the management at the lodge. Not too many showed up today, but the view is well worth the trip.

The visiting family is up from Phoenix, and this time of year there's a lot of snow on, so they were very excited to be able to play around in it! Maybe they were not so excited once they discovered they were stuck in the parking lot! We had to rock and push them out, but we managed. It was well worth the effort just to get to go up there. Everyone loves it there. It's one of my all time favorite places to go. We go camping there fairly often in warmer weather. Even being shiver-me-timbers cold outside it was crossing my mind how nice it would be to start a campfire and big iron pot full of stew. Then again, it will probably be around zero there overnight tonight. Maybe I'll just postpone that little dream till warmer days.

Well, the family is still here so I guess I should go be a little more sociable. I just wanted to share a few pics real quick. (Check out my photo album.) Be blessed!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas '08

What a day! It has been a long, lazy, very happy Christmas day! In all the 25 years I've lived in Arizona, this is the first one I can remember that even bordered on anything like a white Christmas. A week ago it was white! I had intended to write a little in here about it because it's so very unusual, but I was hit pretty hard with a virus the day it snowed, and it took me a week the get better! I was too icky feeling to even go out in it. That's just not like me! All told we got about 5 inches. It snowed great big flakes from the time I got up that morning till after dark that night, and stayed on the ground for over 24 hours. (Yes, that's a picture of my street in the Mohave Desert, AZ!) As long as I've lived here I can't remember that ever happening. I think it was the record for our area, at least it was for Vegas.

Today, well, we're just wet. It's been gray and dismal, and drizzly and absolutely wonderful all day! I'm so happy! I have been waiting for a Christmas that is something besides sunny and finally, Christmas 2008, I got it. Beautiful! My sweet husband even bundled up and stood outside with me because he knows I love it best when he shares things with me. That nearly made my day, knowing that he could generally care less about the weather, and does NOT like cold, wet weather at all. That was my best gift.

The kids have been having trouble sleeping for a few days now, with the excitement and anticipation and everything. They actually went to bed and went to sleep a little bit easier the last night than they had in several days. I think they simply exhausted themselves! Allen and I got to bed pretty late, though. We were seeing to all the last little things so that when we got up everything would be in order. It was nearly 2:00 am before I got in bed with the lights out. I figured we'd probably sleep in until 8:00 or 9:00 like we usually do.

Surprise! Jonathan set his alarm this morning! He was up before 6:00am! It was not because he was so anxious to get to the gifts, although I'm sure that factored in, but he wanted to have a chance to pray and read his Bible a little bit before all of the gift exchanging began so that he could have a good perspective and a right heart about it. Being the mom I was pretty moved by that.

If that wasn't enough, he decided to empty the dishwasher for me so I wouldn't have to wake up and do it on Christmas. That was sweet! It was the clinking and clanking of the dishes that got the attention of the little brother and the animals, and finally my husband and me. I came stumbling in first, groping for the burner knob to start the coffee pot. My husband was busy getting the camera out and set up. The kids were patient and polite through all of that, so we all got together around the Christmas tree and went about the business at hand.

The kids were thrilled with their gifts. I'd known for a long time what they wanted most, and for the most part I had purchased those things awhile back. Video game paraphernalia, model cars, silly hats, GI Joe's and other things boys like. Of course the teenager had to have an MP3 player. My husband and I don't really exchange too much. We always get each other something "from the boys" and maybe some little something else, partly because the kids would be upset if there weren't gifts under the tree for us, too. I got a nice planner and my annual pair of house slippers and bottle of cologne. My husband got a blue tooth headset for his phone. Not to sentimental, but being a truck driver he really needed a decent, hands-free way to use his phone.

Once we had all the gifts open and the trash and boxes out of the way, I was in the kitchen getting ready to cook breakfast when I heard a strange sound calling me from the back of the house. It was calling to me... calling... calling... The closer I got to the sound the more I realized it was actually my husband's snoring, and making me very aware that the kids were busy with their new stuff, and that I had not really gotten much sleep, and that I could probably sneak in there and join him for a little while. Two hours later I made my way back to the kitchen and fixed hash browns and sausage and eggs for everyone. I don't think the kids ever realized we were gone.

I made fudge, which is becoming a yearly event. This year I messed it up somehow. It's edible, but it's just not quite right. That's kind of a drag, because I made it to give as gifts to my friends. By the time I realized it wasn't the best fudge I'd ever made it was too late to make a different batch. I imagine it'll be eaten. It's the spirit of the gift that matters, and it was a labor of love. I actually took a small box of it over to our neighbors across the street. They have been, let's say, "less than friendly" to us over the years, but every once in awhile I take them some little thing. I took them a pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. They seemed to appreciate it. They will get back to their old nasty tempered selves soon enough, but just for a moment there we were actually neighbors.

Of course later on in the evening we had our annual nachos and salsa and chips. We always do. I think that tradition got started back years ago when we used to go out Christmas light-looking on Christmas eve. We've had another tradition of letting the kids open stockings on Christmas eve, and I was always trying to make something quick to eat so that we'd have time for both activities, and nachos fit the bill. We stopped going out to look at lights on Christmas eve a long time ago for one reason or another, but somehow the nacho tradition stuck. We have of a lot of little traditions, small and weird they may be. I'm sure all families do. We honored most of them, and we all had a really great time.

This year we bought a card game for the kids called "Apples to Apples". We sat around the kitchen table and played it for hours! It was so much fun! I can't remember having such a good time with all of us around the table just kidding and cutting up. I highly recommend that game to anyone, by the way. We like games okay I guess. We're not real big game players as a rule, but this one was different. It's low stress and not too competitive, full of fun and laughs no matter how old you are. No one threw a fit or got their feelings hurt. No one struggled much with rules or understanding anything. It was just plain and simple fun. Maybe this will be a new tradition.

We're going to go out to the Allen's parent's place tomorrow. His sister and her family are up for a few days, so we're having a the big traditional Christmas dinner out there. That will be nice. We'll get to visit for awhile, and it will make more good Christmas memories for the kids. My husband always says that nothing's quite as over as Christmas, and this will extend it for another day.

I wish it could go on and on. My husband has been home for a few days back to back, which rarely happens, and we've all spent some happy times together. I wish I could have seen my other kids. I talked to my daughters, but I couldn't reach my son. We thought he and his wife would be by today, he said they would, but I guess something came up. Maybe we'll hear from them tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I'm finishing up my cup of holiday tea, and then it's off to bed with me.
Good night, merry Christmas, and God bless you.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Oh! The Weather Outside is Frightful!

Well, frightful might be a little strong, but
for us here in Mohave County, Arizona, it has been pretty wintry! I don't think it ever topped forty-five degrees today. It has been gray and drizzling since I came out of church last night. I absolutely love this kind of weather! All day long I've been pacing from window to door and inventing reasons to go outside in it and get wet and cold. It's clearing up as I type, but for the moment it's still blustery and damp, just crying out for a nice, cozy lap blanket and a cup of hot tea.

This would be a great night for a fire. Sadly, we don't have a fireplace. There are so few days here where we'd actually get any use out of one. I got a small wood burning stove at a yard sale once, but we never installed the thing. It's sort of a spendy undertaking, both time and money wise. With the triple-walled flue pipe and all that's involved with putting that in, plus bricking in the area where we would want to sit it, we just never went to the effort to do it. Maybe I will. Maybe I will...

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christians and Chritmas Trees

It looks like once again we are back to the old topic of Christmas trees and whether or not Christians should have one. Seems like every year about this time I get someone coming to me for advice who has been upset because someone has told them they should not have a Christmas tree, and they are confused and afraid that they are doing something wrong. Either that or I get people who want to tell me why I shouldn't have a Christmas tree or tell me all of their reasons why they don't have one just as soon as the subject comes up. Frankly, all I can think of say to them is "I see" or "that's nice", because it's such a silly thing to argue about! Walk in what light you have and stop trying to get everyone else to see things your way! I realize that when you are convicted about something that you really feel a need to share your convictions with others, but on non-essentials, beliefs that don't make or break your Christian walk, it's really between the individual and God, isn't it? Maybe just wait until someone asks you.

"Well, what about Jeremiah?" I've heard people try to say that Jeremiah 10:1-4 refers to Christmas trees, and that we can use that passage to say that we shouldn't have a Christmas tree, but, first of all, the Christmas tree is a relatively recent practice, and Jeremiah was way before Jesus' birth... HELLO! Not likely that it's a direct reference to Christmas trees. Other than that obvious fact, I'd say that as long as you are not worshiping your Christmas tree itself, or the works of your hands in creating it, or you are not offering things to it because you fear it, or you think it might go well with you if you do, then it's safe to have a Christmas tree. It's entirely possible that some remote origins have some kind of pagan roots. I've heard that they do, and I've heard that they don't. As for me and my house, we're not pagan, and we're not worshiping the tree or it's decorator. It's just a festive tradition that brings joy and warm feelings to our home and family.

That particular passage of scripture in Jeremiah is talking about idol worship. The people of Jeremiah's day were lousy with idol worship, particularly concerning trees. They worshiped the trees themselves, but they didn't limit their idolatry to the trees, they worshiped and sacrificed many things, including their own babies, to many gods, under the trees. It was common to find them practicing under trees, so much so that reference is made by many historians and scholars to them practicing under "every" tree. Whether that actually means every tree, or maybe it meant most, or every tree in a certain place or of a certain type, I don't know, but that indicates to me that it was very common. In the Bible, any time they are talking about "high places" in conjunction with trees, that's what they mean; idolatry.

In this particular case, there were craftsmen in Jeremiah's day who were taking the creation of God, the tree, and cutting it down, preserving it, decorating it, then propping it back up, and worshiping and giving offerings to it. The people were also praising and idolizing the craftsman who "created" and erected it. Jeremiah was talking about the extreme degree of vanity and madness that was evident among them for them to take God's beautiful and living creation, His tree, "re-creating" it by cutting it down and killing it, and dressing it up and doing all of that, taking credit for it's creation, then falling down before it in worship. It's a picture of how far gone they were. I guess if they had used a mattress in Jeremiah's day instead of a tree we'd be trying to start doctrines about how evil beds are and advocate setting up hammocks for ourselves.

Obviously idol worshiping is sinful. I have a lot less of a problem with a Christmas tree than I do a lot of other things that are considered acceptable today, even preferable. Look what the so called "green" groups are doing today. They aren't killing the trees, but they are surely worshiping the them. They worship the Earth and believe that they are powerful enough as a species to make or break Mother Earth with their own hands. It's the same with wicca and so called "white" witch crafts. They are nature worshipers among other things. They just can't bring themselves to acknowledge a creator or give Him any glory. That would mean they are actually accountable to someone, and that would mean things would have to be re-thunk and changed!

I'm just trying to point out that it's the worship of a thing that isn't God that is the problem, not the thing itself. That seems to be a confusing issue for some reason.

People can take any verse to extremes. If they're convicted about having a Christmas tree then they certainly shouldn't have one, and far be it from me to try to convince them otherwise. ALWAYS be true to your own convictions. Maturity in Christianity will clarify things as we grow, and it offers a fair amount of freedom when you get over into these kinds of issues. I don't feel any conviction about any of that stuff. None. You could conceivably use the same verse to say it's wrong to cut your grass or trim your hedges because it's taking something natural and God-made, and changing it, and admiring the works of you hands. An immature Christian, someone without enough solid learning under their belt, might feel that way. I'm free of concerning myself about it. I am also free to enjoy my Christmas tree if I so choose. Yes, I have a Christmas tree.

One year we had a nice nativity scene on a small table and we decorated the area it was sitting in so that the kids would still have all of the Christmas-y looking things that they enjoy and look forward to so much. It was nice and we didn't miss our tree at all. We had the lights and all of the hand made ornaments that the kids had made in years gone by up around the big front window, and the nativity was set in front of it. It was beautiful. We've been talking about just decorating with a manger scene, and have a "manger" - a decorated box or some such thing - that we could put the presents in and around. I think if I feel any conviction at all about any of this it's that we spend way too much money and place way too much importance on the gift-giving aspects of Christmas, and I think the manger idea would at least focus us a bit more on the Truth. Honestly, though, when you think about it, none of it is really any different... little "dolls" set up in a fake little nativity set and decorated, little "boxes" or trees being decorated, mayonnaise jars, bed frames, tractors, or you name it! Whatever you set up and decorate would be the same. It's just your attitude and your purpose.

We are created in the likeness and image of God, and God is creative. He put it in our make up to be creative, and not everything we create and enjoy falls under the classification of idolatry. We also tend to be festive and traditional folks. It stands to reason that people would make a mess of such simple little things because they think they need to try to be faultless, or maybe appease an angry god or some such thing. I have good news for you if that's the case. God's not angry. You can't perform well enough to earn your acceptance, nor work hard enough to be faultless in His eyes, but I know Someone Who already did it for you! Relax and get to know Him! The rest will fall into place.

Merry Christmas!

Back to Blogger.

Well, I guess I'll give Blogger another go. Mostly because Cullen and Belinda have a blogger account. W'll see if I can keep up on it any better than I used to. :-)