“the Jesus pile”

19 12 2010

Today’s Gospel text is Matthew 1:18-25, the birth of Jesus. Verse 18 begins, “Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way…” (NRSV).

Here at our house, the birth of Jesus begins like this photo: all the Jesus-es (?)in a pile on the bookshelf. Kajsa has loved playing with many nativities this season. Loved it. I have a couple fragile ones up high where she can’t reach, but for the most part, I’m discovering that our nativities are child-friendly. For the first few days I had them out, Kajsa was playing with Mary and Joseph, too.. who were frequently going to meetings.

the Jesus pile

“They’re very busy” she told me. So “Grandma and Grandpa” (other Marys and Josephs) and sometimes some animals were keeping Jesus company.

Then she turned to categorizing the nativities… all the Mary’s lined up in a row, Josephs, animals… shepherds… and this week, she left all the Jesus-es on a shelf. I asked her one day where a certain Jesus was, when I noticed he was gone. “Oh” she said, “He’s in my Jesus pile.” and she pointed to the shelf.

The birth of Jesus took place in one way, but has continued to influence many languages, cultures, socio-economic systems…. etc.

A child’s perspective can be so refreshing, even in a season that already brings wonder and joy and awe…





How to wear reindeer antlers

8 12 2010

This is clearly not a devotional reflection about Advent, or upcoming Scripture texts… just a picture.





Christmas Trappings

2 12 2010

This Sunday I’m preaching on a John the Baptist text: Matthew 3:1-12. John the Baptist is one of those people from the Bible who I love to read about—but he makes me uncomfortable enough that I’m glad he’s not preaching here in Harleysville! He shows up in Judea, looking and probably smelling rather weird, and preaching, “Repent!”… and “Produce fruit worthy of repentance!” Yeah, not a message we like to hear.

Scott Hoezee, (from the Center for Excellence in Preaching), observes, that if John the Baptist were here today, he might be calling on Christians to repent about the way we actually celebrate Advent and Christmas. Touché.

Christmas Trappings... waiting to be unpacked

The way I celebrate Advent and Christmas reflects an honest struggle. I want to celebrate Christ’s birth, anticipate his coming, and live into the reality of being a person of hope in a world overcome with problems. Yet I also love the Christmas trappings. I’m not sure I love the word “trappings”, but I understand it, and give in to it. Christmas trappings, for me, includes the decorations, some shopping, lights…lights…lights, Christmas baking, music… yes, I even like the guy from the North Pole. No, I don’t believe in him. Yes, I like him. Mostly.

It’s not that I think we Christians shouldn’t have fun, or enjoy the season. But despite my good intentions, I end up focusing more on the secular nature of Christmas than I want to. Or than I want to want to. And it’s not even that I have no religious decorations, nativities, candles, spiritual ornaments… I do. And I love them, and love to look at them throughout the season. But I still struggle.

“Repent!” John preached.

Ok.. I’ll repent. Then what? Then what do I do with this tension? I have lots of answers… and I also have Christmas decorations that I’m going to unpack. But the reality is, I’m so thankful that John the Baptist doesn’t live in Harleysville. Because he makes me a bit too uncomfortable.

And maybe he should.





p.s., our 2009 Christmas Tree

13 12 2009

Those who know me well.. or maybe even a little bit… know how much I love Christmas trees. I love going to CaPaul’s Christmas Tree Farm, visiting the reindeer, picking a tree… bringing it home, and yes, spending hours and hours and hours on the lights. This year, it was obvious that we don’t have the time for that. We hardly have time to keep up with each day. Not to mention Kajsa.

So I reflected on a joke Jim made a couple months ago–that I should make a tree out of a tomato cage. At the time, I said, “Never!” Then Thanksgiving weekend, I mentioned it to Jo Ann.. and we started talking about the possibility… and I decided to do it. And so, voila… our Christmas tree. Our Tomato Cage Christmas Tree.

I love it.





“Re-entry” non-blogging

7 01 2009

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just posting photos… Re-entry, ugh. We normally try to schedule in a day after returning from a trip, to adjust…. to unpack in an organized manner. To gather our thoughts before heading back to work, to the world of daily life with all its… reality. But this time we didn’t have that chance, so we’re still catching our breath. You all probably are, too. Re-entry. Ick. Ugh. I think I need a month-long re-entry cushion. Ha ha.

Anyhow, enjoy the pictures. One is at home in Madison…. the rest are in Vermont.

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west of Cleveland

27 12 2008

About 11 miles west of Cleveland. We’re on our way (driving) to Vermont, and were hoping to get to Erie tonight, but when we saw the weather forecasts last night and this morning at 5:30, we realized that we needed to leavedsc_0371 later, and not go so far. Icy roads seemed to be the theme for Chicago and Indiana. So, we did leave Madison eventually, after trying to figure out what to bring with us for a trip to Vermont, which has been quite cold, but is also turning quite warm this weekend. And with a toddler. Who likes shoes but has no snow boots.. and walks better barefoot.. but who can’t walk barefoot outdoors. And who needs plenty of distractions in the long car ride. Needless to say, the satelite XM radio in the rental car we have doesn’t amuse her quite as much as it amuses Jim and me. I love it. Fortunately for all four of us in the car (Jim, Kajsa, Abby and me), I overpack, and have lots of little distractions for Kajsa. But her favorite is Jen’s bag. 🙂

But I digress. The point is, we’re this far… west of Cleveland, at a Red Roof Inn, which accepts dogs. And tomorrow, hopefully, we’ll make it to VT. More specifically, West Townshend, VT.

This past Sunday we tried to get home to Minnesota to be with Jim’s parents before Christmas. But weather was a problem then as well. We made it to Black River Falls, had to pull over and spend the night, and the next morning we decided –sadly, though wisely–to return to Madison and not head to MN. We’ll have to celebrate Christmas with Grandma and Grandpa E. after the New Year sometime.

Yesterday was a good day. We relaxed in the morning, talked to some family, opened presents, and visited the puppies at Jen and Roy’s. So cute. I’ll have to post photos of the puppies later. In the meantime, the photo in this post is of Kajsa playing with some of her gifts. She did have PJs on earlier, but saw her Christmas Eve dress, and wanted to put that on. (So why not? Good Christmas Day dress, too, since next year she will have outgrown it.) Then I put a Santa hat on, and she wanted that on, too. Again, good photo op, so why not?

And yes, those are baseball and hockey cards she’s playing with… gotta love it. She was thrilled to find them in her stocking.

Time to go to sleep, so we can wake up and go past Cleveland tomorrow.





Christmas Eve Day

25 12 2008

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Crazy times. Wonderful times. Good memories, these days. Most being photographed. It is very fun to have Kajsa at Christmas time, and her curiosity–about the tree, the lights, the ornaments, the other decor, joy over the music, etc.–is a fun reminder about having fun in this stressful season.

Anyhow, here are some photos from yesterday–Christmas Eve Day.

Merry Christmas, all!

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Putting Christmas away

7 01 2008

This is how I begin the process of putting Christmas away…

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And this is how Abby begins putting Christmas (in particular, a Santa Claus toy) away…

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the past week

1 01 2008

Just some pix. I’ve been sick, exhausted, and on vacation. Aside from those first two negatives, however, there have been some fun times in the past week. So here are some moments in pictures…

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Sledding on Christmas Day

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Our Christmas tree… I love our tree… I’m going to miss it.

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Al’s Breakfast in Dinkytown, Minneapolis. Best pancakes in the world: Wally Blue’s.

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Hiking with the dogs… along the Mississippi River.

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Minnesota Wild game… after we won in overtime.

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After the game.





IKEALuciaKazoo

20 12 2007

100_9399_ikea.jpgNo, it’s not one of those cell phone commercials. The ones who combine the city names in one word. And no, it’s not a typo. Though when I titled my Advent Photo #18 last night, I separated the three words with a space. But today I re-thought that. Because it was such a surreal funny experience, it just felt all mushed together.

Jim and I were at IKEA yesterday. Jo Ann drove out and met us for lunch, on a study break. Jim went to visit a friend at a nursing facility in Carol Stream. When he returned, and after Jo Ann left, Jim and I did a quick walk-through of IKEA. As we were heading down the escalator from Level 2 to Level 1, these two elderly ladies–obviously sisters–somehow caught Jim’s attention, then showed him their shopping carts, each of which held about 5-7 circular candelabras. Jim said they looked like Lucia crowns, and that now these two ladies could have their own Lucia celebration. I actually thought Jim knew these ladies, the way they were talking to him. It was funny. Then I realized they didn’t.

“Lucia!” they said.. oh, they added. We know Lucia.. We’re half Swedish, half Italian.. both sides have Lucia. Jim suggested they sing the Lucia song… and so he began to sing. But as he started, one of the ladies said, “wait! wait!” and began rummaging in her purse. We looked at each other wondering what was going on. And the other sister said to the one rummaging, “Do you have it? Oh dear! Don’t encourage her!”

Then the first one pulled a kazoo out of her purse. And began playing the tune of “Santa Lucia”. So Jim began singing. They were side-hugging, while singing/playing… passersby staring at them, some laughing, some smiling, some just looking puzzled. And, of course, Jim was singing in Swedish.

Quite funny. And fun…