Christmas Day Home Tour 2011

Late on a sleepy, star-spangled night, 

those angels 

peeled back the sky 

just like you would tear open 

a sparkling Christmas present.

 Then, with light and joy

pouring out of Heaven

like water through a broken dam,

they began to shout and sing the message

 that baby Jesus had been born.

 The world had a Savior! 

The angels called it "Good News," 

and it was.

Merry Christmas, everyone!


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Mary, Did You Know (your Nativity would be in my Living Room)?

Each year, at Christmastime,
as I pull the bubbled-wrapped nativity pieces of ceramic from their box,
I not only marvel at the simplicity of the story of grace,
but I am in awe of Mary's great faith and trust in God's plan of redemption.

When Gabriel came to visit a terrified Mary to announce the arrival of
the long-awaited, prophesied Messiah, she was shaken and worried about what he was there for.
What had she done (or NOT done) to prompt a visit from a messenger of God?

She knew the scriptures, the prophecies containing the promise of a Messiah.
She knew the one in Micah, (Chapter 2 verse 2-4):
"But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means the least
among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler
who will shepherd my people Israel".

She had been planning her wedding,
imagining her dress, and the flowers she'd style in her hair,
not planning a nursery or sewing a layette.
She was deciding who would cater the reception,
not worrying about eating for two.
She daydreamed about her groom, Joseph,
and how handsome he'd look as he watched her face through her veil,
not praying he'd divorce her quietly.

So, was she surprised when the angel told her that the Savior would come through her?
Was Mary flabbergasted that it would happen even though she had never slept with a man?
Was she astonished to hear the words, "I am the Lord's servant. Let it be with me just as you say"
pass from between her lips?

Did this now mean that all HER plans were altered, delayed, or worse, ruined?

After Gabriel left, Mary might have wondered if the exchange had really happened.
I might have.

After Gabriel disappeared, Mary might have wondered what this meant for her future.
I would have.

After the angel delivered His message of hope, Mary might have wondered
if any one would believe her when she told them what had happened.
I definitely would have.

Oh, Mary.
You gladly let go of your hopes for the birth of the Hope of Nations.
You quietly released your plans of joy for God's joyous plan.
You sacrificed your reputation and peace for the Prince of Peace.

When it finally sunk in, and you realized the significance of the choice you made,
and chose to glorify God in your soul and rejoice in your spirit over being the one chosen,
you knew.

You knew that what God did for you would never be forgotten.
That all generations would call you blessed.
That your heart of worship and consent would inspire others forever.

You knew.

Through your gift of love, young wise woman, Love has come.

And I thank you.

Year after year, I thank you.

Last year, I wondered:
Mary, did you know (Bethlehem didn't have a Hobby Lobby)?


My Christmas Home Tour 2011

Welcome to my home!
Please, come on in! 
I'll bring you a cup of tea, I'll show you around.

This is my life. Today.

I haven't opened one single Christmas storage box yet.
I haven't "decorated".
If you'll please excuse the bit of projects here and there, thank you.

If you'll overlook the half-decorated window sill,

the mop I just used in the kitchen, which is now drying in the sun on the deck,

the hum of the dishwasher and dryer run through their cycles,
cleaning up after yesterday's adventures,
the baking debris in the corner as I make thank-you-for-teaching-my-kids goodie bags.

I have been guilty of slaving away in the kitchen baking dozens and dozens of goodies,
while worrying about just the right touches to adorn my dining room.
But, it hasn't happened yet, because we are in the process of staging our home to sell it.
This room is taking longer to paint it that anticipated,
because I keep getting "interrupted".
And it's okay.
I am grateful to have a home.
And paint. And especially a ladder.

Our mantel still has Autumn's decor on it.
My cloche on the table between the red chairs remains empty,
waiting for some bauble or glittery addition.
The coffee table has my daughter, Miss A's Algebra 2, Chemistry, and Chinese class notes on it, 
because she has finals this week and has to study.
And she chooses to do it right in the middle of all the activity.
The sofa's slipcover is in laundry room.
And it's all right.

The inside of the ex-TV armoire, where our high schoolers keep their school stuff,
 is trashed from said teenaged girls coming and going to separate schools.
Miss A's stuff is on the left,
and Miss Lovely's (our S. Korean exchange student daughter) stuff is on the right.
Piles of books, calculators, pens, binders, and Miss Lovely's camera that she keeps ready 
at all times to capture something curious to her about us Americans!

I could fuss and fume about the clutter.
But, when I look at this mess, I see the future.
These children are learning and excelling in areas I could only dream about.
When I stare into the piles I hear the lectures, the clicks of the locks on the lockers,
the between-classes bell, I smell the cafeteria food.
It brings me back to my high school years, and I remember to hold onto
these moments with these young people, and encourage them and reward them
for our world rests on their little shoulders.

And their shoes remain on our stairs for only a little while.

This is the room that usually holds the Christmas tree.
Yet, in the spot where it should go, the mirror and the artwork for the dining room rest.
The top of the piano is eerily empty, and someone has left the tissue box on the floor
near the heater which was warming their tootsies.
I am tempted to stress that "the tree isn't up yet".
But, I won't. 
For some reason, I'm not offended by its absence.
I'm not compelled to action by the bins in the garage, containing its contents.
And it's fine.

We have a budding pianist that performs in this room.
Miss Lovely plays from memory.
She's perfecting Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata
I have an international star in my home!

The only thing Christmas-y our half bath has going for it, is the remaining red wall.
The others have been painted contract-on-the-house khaki.
You see, we started a teeny weeny project after Thanksgiving, that we thought would take a day,
two days, max, that turned into a bigger project when the new faucet we installed 
started leaking behind the pedestal sink.
The sink waits patiently while we attend Christmas parties and drive offspring to recitals
and their own holiday gatherings.
No matter.

I did manage to whip up 2 dozen cupcakes for the youth group last night.
I would have saved you one, but they're gone.

And I did manage to let a whole card full of faux snow escape onto my foyer floor
when opening this greeting by my friend, Marcia, in Miami.
You're a stinker, chica.

My excuses for not being more prompt with decking the halls?
The second Saturday this month, I hosted a regional P.I.E. gathering in our basement cafe'.
Pacific Intercultural Exchange is the organization that puts exchange students and
host families together. Eight other host families and their students came to our home,
with their international stars.

Poon, from Thailand (not pictured yet), wrote Merry Christmas for me on the chalkboard wall.
Translated into Romanized font, read this out loud: "Sook sanwan Chrismass."
There, you just spoke Thai!
Then, Jeep from China (below), wrote Merry Christmas in Chinese for us.
I can't pronounce it and won't even try.

I got teary-eyed as I took this picture in our backyard.
Amazing young people. Left their homes for a year to experience our way of life.
I never would have thought in a million years, that souls from many other nations
would have graced my home!

How am I so blessed?

From left to right, countries represented:
Back row: Brazil, (this is Poon) Thailand, China, Mainland China, South Korea.
Front row: Norway, Brazil, and South Korea (our Miss Lovely).

A few days after they left, my mom (#1) and my other mom (#2) prepared
for a Gingerbread House Workshop, also held in my cafe'.
We each plugged in our Kitchenaids.
And got the gingerbread dough cranked out!
12 batches of it. 


Mom #1's (the mom who birthed me) mixer.

Mom #2's (the one who lives near me) helper.

I did this for a few days.
And loved it.
I especially loved being with my moms, making messes and making memories.

Thank you #1, for all your help.
Wow. You are one incredible woman.
Giving, kind, and knowledgeable.

Mom #2, thank you for all your help.
I am grateful that you always wash the dishes after the fun is over.
What a servant example you are!

Miss Lovely and Miss A, after Miss Lovely's Holiday choral performance at school (she is a soprano) 
doing that peace sign next to the face thing all teenagers do for pictures nowadays.
And to that I say, "Yes, I have peace, too."

I have peace this year, more than any other before.

Because, I think Christmas (maybe) doesn't come out of storage once a year.
It's something that we should perpetually live.
Christ came from His throne, to be engaged in our way of life.
Our Emmanuel became God with us.
To empathize, to give hope, to heal, to share, to love.
And I want so much to be like Him.

And though I acknowledge His arrival, and I am certainly not anti-Christmas
(in fact, I am having a blast Pinteresting and visiting everyone's beautiful homes),
I have concluded (through tears and a tantrum or five) that I DO NOT have it have it all together.
I decided that I can't do it all.
I decided to accept the beautiful messes. The decorations of life.

Starting this afternoon, when the last bell sounds for school to be out for winter break,
I am looking forward to the next three weeks with my family!
I choose to be just as excited for this winter recess as I was when I was a kid!

Maybe we will put the tree up this weekend.
Maybe not.

Either way.
It's okay.
I will rejoice!

(I'm glad I thought to grab this swag at Trader Joe's for $5.99 last week!)

This concludes the tour. For now.
To be continued....



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