2010: a bloggy retrospective {link your best-of posts}

so much shouting, so much laughter
this may be a bit indulgent, but with 2011 approaching, compiling a year-end list of favorite posts appealed to me.  i've enjoying reflecting back on the moments in time cataloged in this space, and if you are a blogger, i hope you'll link some favorites from your own blog that we may have missed the first time around.

wherein mothering teaches me about grace:
everything beautiful in its time
sea legs 
dimly-lit days 
notes to the new mom

wherein i reveal my earth mama tendencies: 
ShoutLaughLove:  embodied prayer
on birth and babies
the chemical component: cosmetics, cleaners, and cancer
how to make your own laundry soap

wherein i write poetry(ish):
shabbat shalom

wherein i open my big mouth:
the fallacy of colorblindness
an open letter to glenn beck
the public school apologist
our grief is {not} a cry for war

wherein i reflect on the Word 
lift up your head
forget not all his benefits
that your soul may live 

wherein i chronicle our country life:
tune my heart to sing thy grace
august and everything after
babes in the woods

wherein this one is a bit hard to categorize:
if it smells like death, it's probably dead

i can't wait to read some of your best posts of 2010!
linked up with steph over at at adventures in babywearing.


home sweet home

we celebrated a wonderful christmas at my parents.  a snowstorm postponed one sister's flight and kept us all a little housebound, but it was fun to lay low, eat, play, and laugh together.  my kids relished attention from their grandparents, aunts, and uncle, and we got to spend a rare afternoon all together with my grandma, too.  james even slept reasonably well--a christmas miracle!

at some point i'll upload pictures, but tonight, it's nice to just appreciate our beautiful christmas tree (that i'm in no hurry to take down) and the quiet.

we opened the stockings that didn't get filled before we left and gave the kids one last gift--the (only) one from us and something we were so excited to share.  we scooped up a train table on craiglist and got some wooden trains and tracks.  i know we're going to enjoy them playing there together for a long time.  between the christmas tree and the train table, it really looks like a family lives here:)

we worshiped at my parent's church christmas eve.  it was good to see familiar faces and enjoy the pageant and dance.   as we sang together, i was struck by what this carol revealed about the purpose of the manger-born babe:
Why lies He in such mean estate,
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christians, fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
i looked up the lyrics and found there are alternate lines sung after:
Nails, spear shall pierce Him through,
The cross be borne for me, for you.
Hail, hail the Word made flesh,
The Babe, the Son of Mary.
amazing, huh?  always the cross visible from the stable.

how did your family celebrate?  any fun or poignant traditions?  is christmas over in your mind, or do you keep things going through epiphany?  i hope that your celebrations were warm, wonderful, and worshipful.


ugly sweaters and sundry winter tales

  • we hosted our third annual ugly sweater party, and it was ugly indeed.  take a gander:

those are some Cooossby sweaters!
elfin cute

um, this is an ugly sweater bustier that i purchased at a church rummage sale.
  • jim made eggnog that should come with a warning.  we still have some in the fridge, and it is dang tasty in coffee.  it'll warm you right up on these chilly mornings;)
  • my MOPS group had a homemade gift/craft exchange this morning.  this is not really my forte, as i don't scrapbook or use craft as a verb.  (last year i infused vodka--craft liquor!)    my lemon curd turned out great, but i am most proud of how cute i made the little jars look:
it's like they were made by someone who knows how to decorate stuff.
maybe there's a little crafter in me yet.  i know, not really.  indulge me.  at least once a year i can pretend.
  • like her daddy, dylan loves all things winter.  she gets exceedingly amped about icicles, and she was finally able to get out and play with jim the other night, in her new-to-us snowsuit.  let's snow throwballs!  she said.  snow throwballs, indeed.

  • james has been sleeping like junk for about three months.  last night he was up four times.  at almost fourteen months, he's is not an infant anymore, and i am so tired of being tired.  must. get. offline. and. in. bed.
what about you?  any christmas crafting, snowventures, general merriment? (*salutes* General Merriment!)  tell me a story.


in the bleak mid-winter

growing up, our church observed advent like lent, as a somber and penitential season.  we did not sing christmas carols at church at all until christmas eve.

that makes it sound like some kind of ultra-strict, repressive faith community--which it wasn't.  i didn't have to boycott prom or forgo pants or anything, but there was no congregational merriment to be had until december twenty-fourth on the dot.

i hated it.  all i wanted to do was sing "joy to the world" and instead we were stuck singing dirge-like advent carols.  of course, it didn't help that stores start piping in christmas music the day after halloween, so by the time christmas rolled around, i was sick to death of all the jessica simpson-style "holiday music" before i'd ever had the chance to sing true christmas carols to their intended Recipient.

g. bremer

"people look east" and "lo, how a rose ere blooming" were the two chief offenders, and they became something of a family joke.  the songs were played in that choppy, too-slow style that is impossible to sing along to, so when the pianist would strike the plaintive chords, my sister and i would dissolve into fits of giggles.

our church managed to butcher "o come, o come emmanuel," too.  we were allowed to sing that one because it was considered an advent hymn rather than a christmas carol, but i don't remember ever really singing the (powerful) verses.  instead, we all held hands and sung the brief refrain at the close of each pre-christmas service.

teenage me thought that was especially lame.

these advent hymns left me with a bad taste.  i know now that the goal was to emphasize the waiting and anticipation of the advent of Christ's coming, but to me, they were fun-squelching and old-fashioned.  i never paid attention to the words until much more recently, and since then i've had a change of heart.

the verses that once fueled my teenage indignation i now count among my most cherished.

prophesy.  longing.  poetry and promise.  rich, beautiful imagery. the hope and scope of the gospel in a few stanzas.

the very essence of christmas.

Lo, how a rose e'er blooming,
From tender stem hath sprung!
From Jesse’s lineage coming,
As men of old have sung.

It came, a floweret bright,
Amid the cold of winter
When half spent was the night
Isaiah 'twas foretold it,
The Rose I have in mind
With Mary we behold it,
The Virgin mother kind
To show God's love aright,
She bore to us a Savior
When half spent was the night
This Flower, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor
The darkness everywhere;

True man, yet very God,
From Sin and death he saves us,
And lightens every load

In the bleak mid-winter
  Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
  Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
  Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
  Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
  Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
  When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
  A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
  Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
  Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
  And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
  Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
  Which adore.

Angels and archangels
  May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
  Thronged the air,
But only His mother
 In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
  With a kiss.


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 Day-Spring, 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 quarrels cease;
Fill the whole world with heaven’s peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Photobucketlinking up at the Bigger Picture Blogs and their prompt "hymn."

what are your favorite christmas carols or songs?


the land of deep darkness

the Light is dawning, the Light that darkness has not overcome.

we see it: the glimmer of promise, the hope of peace.

but the days are dark yet. wars and rumors of war. need. hunger. abuse. neglect. addiction. grief. loneliness. depression. sickness. pain.

how can we celebrate when so much is broken and lost?

advent is a time of waiting. we wait for christmas, like mary, waiting to give birth to the child of promise. like anna and simeon, israel's faithful remnant waiting for redemption. like the wise men, foreigners waiting to worship.

we wait, too: not for a baby in the manger, but for the time when Christ will come again and make all things right. when he will stamp out darkness once and for all.

until then, we live in the tension. the now and not-yet.

so we watch. and we wait. and we remind one another of the Truth--that Jesus is stronger than the darkness of this world, that his victory was ensured at the cross, and the days of death and suffering are numbered.

and we push back the darkness together.

linking up with the Bigger Picture Blogs.  their writing prompt was the carol based upon this poem:

Christmas Bells
    I  heard the bells on Christmas Day
    Their old, familiar carols play,
        And wild and sweet
        The words repeat
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And thought how, as the day had come,
    The belfries of all Christendom
        Had rolled along
        The unbroken song
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Till ringing, singing on its way,
    The world revolved from night to day,
        A voice, a chime,
        A chant sublime
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    Then from each black, accursed mouth
    The cannon thundered in the South,
        And with the sound
        The carols drowned
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    It was as if an earthquake rent
    The hearth-stones of a continent,
        And made forlorn
        The households born
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

    And in despair I bowed my head;
    "There is no peace on earth," I said;
        "For hate is strong,
        And mocks the song
    Of peace on earth, good-will to men!" 

    Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
    "God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
        The Wrong shall fail,
        The Right prevail,
    With peace on earth, good-will to men."  

   -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-82)


a thin line

i tried bangs again.  it's a risky maneuver, as they've gone wrong so many times i don't know why i keep bothering.

except i do, because they are so stinkin' cute when done right.

done right by others, i mean.  i've experienced widely (and wildly) unfortunate results over the years at salons and home, so i almost never wear bangs.  i cut them, hate them, and let them grow out until the whim strikes again, which it always does.  i am ever the hair-optimist.

last night, i got them cut (along with my formerly-pink-and-starting-to-dread ends from october).  i went to a drop-in place inside a discount store, and can i tell you?

i am reasonably pleased with my low-end 'do:

i am just hoping that after i wash and style it myself, my hair resembles this indie queen

a bit more than this one!

la la lalala

with love and fluffiness,



nestled deep inside the weird, wonderful mosaic of
grandma/sister/neighbor love:

mittens on strings (or they'd never match)
hand-me-down snow pants much too
big, hiked-up and snugged-down.
scarves:  each stitch a blessing
boots and hats and extra gloves
coats zipped cozy-tight and

we are READY.

the front door opens wide
a world of possibility, shimmering white
the trees sparkle, each bare branch thick with ice

{graced by the wand of a sugar plum fairy?
or the very hand of God?}

we step out:  brother, sister,  i

Can you walk?
No, but i can fly

Photobucket image credit:

'twas the write before christmas: check out daily prompts all week and join in.  today's is "lost amid the snow."


happy december! who wants free photo christmas cards?

advent has begun, our tree is up (but only partly decorated), and we woke up this morning to snow.   i'm not such a fan of the cold, but jim couldn't be happier.  when i told him it was snowing, he audibly gasped.

"it is 33 and RAINING in pittsburgh!"  and he nearly skipped out the door to feed the chickens in a flurry of winter white.

we are still recovering from the twelve hour marathon car ride [also known as the festival of sickness and tears] that brought us back from an otherwise wonderful thanksgiving in tennessee with jim's family.  the kiddos are a bit under the weather, but today is definitely a good day to cuddle up and lay low.

i have a great giveaway for 50 5x7 flat cards from studio dayspring over at {so much reviews} click on over for a chance to enter.  contest ends monday 12/6.
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