a decade draws to a close

i only recently realized that not only the year but the whole decade is coming to a close. please tell me i'm not the only one!

while the decade was kind of a bummer on a national scale (9/11, the bush presidency, interminable war, tanking economy), it also marked the beginning of my adult life and some pretty dramatic personal changes.

on the eve of the last decade, i was a 19 year old college student, just beginning to figure out who i was and what i believed. in the summer of 2000, i met jim and two years later we married. we were still babies when we moved to pittsburgh in '02, took first jobs, and learned a little about grace, marriage, and being a grown-up. we fell in love with the city, learned to cook curry, and endured various dramas associated with apartments that rent for $325 a month;)

in the summer of 2005, we moved here to ligonier, trading our third floor walk-up for a big old farmhouse and our bustling neighborhood for a summer camp that is insanely busy three months of the year and a ghost town the other nine. leaving a job i loved directing a youth ministry, i struggled to find my place here. i worked as a waitress, barista, and housing authority caseworker before becoming a mama to dylan in the fall of 2007. twenty-three months later, james joined team paul, and we became what my friend liz refers to as the "family four pack." it's been a busy two years!

it's hard to believe we're coming up on five years here, especially since i really still don't feel that rooted. i think in this new year i need to put myself out there more and be more intentional at pursuing relationships. i dearly love my husband and my kids, but i need more adults and women in my life for sure.

ten years ago, i was a student barely out of high school and my parents' home, and now i'm a wife and mother of two, approaching 30. i wonder what God has in store for the next decade...

Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!

Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert
and streams in the wasteland. --Isaiah 43:18-19


God with us

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer our spirits by Thine advent here; Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death's dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, Desire of nations, bind all peoples in one heart and mind; Bid envy, strife and sorrow cease, fill the whole world with heaven's peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!
"The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14 (NIV)

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish. (The Message)


no crying he makes...

...well, not during the pageant, anyway;)
both kids did a great job at yesterday's lessons and carols.

cutest sheep ever
st. michael's.  beautiful country church


an advent prayer

Lo, in the silent night
A child to God is born
And all is brought again
That ere was lost or lorn.

Could but thy soul, O man,
Become a silent night!
God would be born in thee
And set all things aright.

-15th century

Come, Lord Jesus.


amazing grace

-----Email Message-----
"She was pretty, she used to climb trees. She made jewelry for her family for Christmas. She was the single mother of a son she loved. She tried her hardest, but just like the rest of us, she made mistakes. And we forgave her for them, just like we forgive you."

PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a postcard. i won't link, since it can be R-rated, but submissions like this are such a poignant reminder of our brokenness and need for Christ's redemptive love and reconciling grace--as well as our commission to extend that to a world in desperate need of hope.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. -2 Corinthians 5:17-21


making spirits bright...and ugly

when jim received this awful sweater in his office secret santa, we were certain it would be the ugliest at the ugly sweater christmas party we hosted last night:

this photo doesn't begin to capture its tackiness: embellished with sequins, gold balls, pearls, and wood heart buttons, the sugar plum fairies on the back are wearing three-dimensional tulle skirts. UG-LEEEE.

but everyone was put to shame when this monstrosity walked in the door:

this ensemble was a true work of art. if a hoodless mom sweatshirt can be considered tricked out, it was: chad customized this little ugly with an actual stuffed reindeer, a vest, candy canes and working christmas lights. really, there are no words.

jim made eggnog, following the recipe of our grandfatherly neighbor who got it from his own grandfather. it was unbelievably rich (18 eggs and three pints whipping cream will do that!), potent, and a huge hit.

a few more pics...

weird, wonderful, and so much fun.


a very handmade christmas

well, not handmade by me: i'm not that crafty! the MOPS group i go to is having a craft exchange and i'm bringing little jars of vodka that i infused with cranberries and oranges, because i really don't know my way around a sewing machine or glue gun.

maybe someday i'll learn to create beautiful things, like these lovelies that i have on good authority will be waiting under the tree for miss dylan elizabeth. it turns out santa does his christmas shopping on etsy:)

tiny tutu + hair bow = so much frilly, girly cuteness!

a beautiful sling, so dylan can wear her babies, too

and this one isn't for sure, but it is just so cool. it's an "i spy" game--something dylan is pretty into right now. so we'll see...

is santa bringing your loved ones anything you're pretty excited about?


Voices of the Faithful: Book 2

A devotional that strengthens my faith, engages my intellect, and challenges me to seek God and his Word more faithfully is a bit like my Holy Grail.  For years I read the Oswald Chamber's classic My Utmost for His Highest, and I haven't found a book since that keeps my attention on a daily basis or compares to its theological weight.  I am ever-searching.

Thomas Nelson sent me a copy of Voices of the Faithful - Book 2: Inspiring Stories of Courage from Christians Serving Around the World to check out.  It is billed as a "daily devotional for every day of the year," but I'd say its subtitle is more on the mark.  It tends more toward the inspirational than the meaty, but it certainly has merit as a way for everyday Christians to feel part of--and pray for--world missions.

Voices of the Faithful - Book 2: Inspiring Stories of Courage from Christians Serving Around the WorldEach day's reading is written by an active missionary serving somewhere across the world.  Living a comfortable American life so far removed from the realities of that kind of ministry, it is valuable to hear the stories of how God's Word is impacting people and cultures across the globe and to feel challenged to step out in faith wherever we are.  Whether we serve in the traditional "mission field" or not, we are all called to make disciples of all nations, and Voices of the Faithful demonstrates how all Christians can support and pray for missionaries abroad. 

Readings are short and cover one page.  A short verse introduces the devotion, the missionary story follows, and a prayer sums it up.  If you are looking for a daily devotional that directs you into Bible reading or unpacks and applies whole passages of scripture, this isn't it.  The readings are grouped topically by month ("Prayer, the Priority", "Follow Me", "From Adversity to Triumph", "Hope for the World," etc.) and introduced with a meditation on that aspect of the spiritual life, but its overall focus is not Bible reading or comprehension but rather current stories of God's work in the world. 

I could see readings being used by families around the dinner table.  The stories are appropriate for children and it could definitely pique interest in becoming a missionary as well as serving God wherever we are called.  Voices of the Faithful would be a valuable companion piece in a family's devotional life, but it will not direct you into spiritual disciplines beyond remembering to keep missionaries and world missions in prayer.  Of course, that purpose is noble--it just isn't quite what I was looking for in a daily reader.

Thomas Nelson provided me with a book to read but I was not otherwise compensated for this review.


it's beginning to look a lot like christmas

proof in pictures that i have two kids...

dylan was at one point also wearing a santa skirt (a la Mean Girls), but when i put her in a disposable diaper, it no longer stayed up, so she rocked the ever-chic boots/leg warmers/diaper look for a bit around the house.

our tree is mostly decorated as of tonight, but it took three days. it is hard completing any task around here these days! dylan absolutely loves the tree and lights.

an exchange tonight between jim and dylan:

"santa's coming!"
"what's santa gonna bring, dylan?"
"food? what kind of food?"

maybe he will...

whenever either jim or i have both children in our arms or on our laps, dylan always says, "my kids!"

my kids, indeed:)


fairly traded goodies

looking to give a gift this season that gives back? ten thousand villages, a non-profit that sells gorgeous and fair trade hand-crafted items from all over the world, is offering free shipping for online orders through december 15. just type in the coupon code MOSAIC.

you can find a bunch of other fair trade companies and organizations listed here, too.

i just thought you might want to know:)

(find more gift giving ideas at we are THAT family.)
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