Well, I did it. My time off is almost over and I have tamed the dirty house monster. With some help from my children, I knocked him over the head with a vaccuum cleaner, put him in a tight headlock and now he's under my control on a leash! He's been bugging me for a long time. He has little clutter goblins that follow him around but they don't bother me so much. It's just him. For awhile now he's been telling me how bad I am and making me feel shameful. Not anymore my self confidence is high. Whew and I'm not overwhelmed by my house anymore. Now if we can just keep it all organized life will be good.
It took some doing but I stuck to the cleaning schedule I wrote to you a few blogs ago. Everyday I cleaned well the room on the list. Our vaccuum cleaner messed up three times but we got it going again. My sons probably took out 10 extra bags of trash. Our boys were surprised when they saw their room. They thanked me. I probably did three loads of laundry a day. Sam helped me fold them. All our clothes are organized now. A few tears were shed when Ginny saw some of the clothes and toys I tried to sneak away. If she gave me a good reason I went ahead and let her have them back. I sucked up a whole lot of tiny shiny red tinsel hearts that Ginny scattered around as she played with them over time. Those things look cute sprinkled around a centerpiece on a dinner table but I got sick of vaccuuming them up. Legos and megablocks, they look the same to me but there's a big difference. Just ask Benjamin. Those were also all over and took some time to collect. There were also many pens, pencils and silverware found under couches, chairs and beds. I mainly worked on our big cleaning project but I made sure I had plenty of help anytime I needed it.
My home isn't spotlessly clean but it sure feels good when as a Mom I've got things organized again like I want them:)
I looked up "Jabez prayer" on the internet. I found 40,900 entries. There was a famous book written by Bruce Wilkinson in 2000 called "The Prayer of Jabez". A few years before that came out I attended Eastwood Baptist Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Our pastor at that time, Preston Nix, preached a sermon on that small passage of two Bible verses found in the Old Testament. He encouraged us to pray Jabez's prayer to God for our selves and our family. So I did. A few months later I was in a car wreck. The back end of my minivan was rear ended. Since it occurred at a low speed the accident wasn't very harmful. Our van's back needed repair and I hit my mouth on the steering wheel causing a small gash. I got two or three stitches. The other lady had insurance so everything was paid for. But an interesting amount was added to the bill. The insurance adjuster paid me $1000 for the tiny gash beneath my lip. Since my face had been harmed this was the amount they considered appropriate. My husband and I could hardly believe we got this much money for the now barely visible mark on my face. I contribute such positive fate to the request I regularly offered up to God.
So I think it's time once again to delve into that prayer with faithfulness, praying specifically for my husband. I've been praying it from time to time but have decided to become more detailed in my praying. Besides its the New Year and what better wishes could I offer my husband for 2006 than this prayer for him to prosper!
I took the two verses found in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 and was able to break it all up into nine different parts that relate to my husband's prosperity in different ways. The passage is written from Jabez view. So I used his example to change it into a prayer for Danny:
And Jabez was more honorable than his brethren: . . .
Dear Heavenly Father,
1. I pray that Danny would be more honorable than all his 3 siblings and my 10 siblings. I pray he would not be overwhelmed with stress that comes with such success.
and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.
2. I pray that the name Danny Carlton would not have negative meaning. I pray that it would stand for honor to the name of Jesus Christ, integrity and would be deserving of respect. May Danny's name stand for humbleness, kindness, truth and hardwork.
And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying,
3. I pray that my husband would seek Your direction daily. He would set aside time to quietly spend focusing on Jesus and the Bible. May he continuously and regularly seek the direction of God in his business, his family, our marriage and his personal growth as a Christian.
Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed,
4. Heavenly Father, I pray that You would bless Danny with a very fulfilling life (John 10:10). I ask that all his God given talents would work together efficiently to first of all honor the name of Christ, and encourage people to choose God. Secondly, to fully provide for the financial needs of our family and also provide the finances to donate to authentic Christian charities.
And enlarge my coast,
5. I pray Heavenly Father that my husband and I and our family would be able to move away from our trailer house and lot to a strong, sturdy, big home that was built to last. And we would have land in which we could grow a garden and some animals (i.e. Chickens, cows, horses) before our children grow up.
and that thine hand might be with me,
6. Please be with my husband in all he does (Proverbs 3:5-6). Give him wisdom in his decision making, help his mind to be alert and focused. Bless him with good health. Help him to balance well the priorities of his life.
and that thou wouldest keep me from evil,
7. I ask, Heavenly Father, that You would protect my husband and our family from people who would want to harm us. Protect my husband's internet endeavors from spammers and hackers or anyone else who would be angry or would want to threaten or get "even" with my husband. I also, ask that you would personally protect each member of our family from the temptation to do wrong (Matthew 6:13). When the situations arise please help each one of us to choose to do right.
that it may not grieve me!
8. Please help my husband and our family stay close to you so that we would not have to deal with the regret of wrongdoing. Also, please help my husband to not get overwhelmed with stress. Give him clarity of mind and creative problem solving skills when difficulties arise. Help us to use our time and abilities wisely. Please place around my husband and our children people that are godly, wise and encouraging.
And God granted him that which he requested.
9. Heavenly Father, help us to be cautious to ask these requests in alignment with Your will for our lives. Thank you that you have plans for us that give us hope and a fulfilling future (Jeremiah 29:11). Thank You for what you're going to do!!
In Jesus name, Amen.
NOW, LET'S JUST WAIT AND SEE WHAT GOD WILL DO IN 2006 BECAUSE WE'RE TRUSTING IN HIM AND PRAYING!!!
Yes!, I have a total of eleven days away from my job. I'm gonna play house with my husband and my four children. It feels good to have a change of pace and it's as if I'm a stay-at-home mom again after all these years.
I do have plans for my time at home. I wanted to tell you. I sort of think of you as someone I can be accountable to. If I write something in my blog it's important to me that it is true. I wanted to mainly focus on cleaning my home. Some of the days have already past but that's okay here's my list:
Friday the 23rd-- Prepare for family party, have party @ 6:30pm
Saturday the 24th-- Eat out with Ginny, prepare for Christmas morn
Sunday the 25th-- Open presents, go to church
Monday the 26th-- 6am time alone with God, clean my room, take a long nap, buy groceries, 1 load of laundry
Tuesday the 27th-- 6am time alone with God, help Ginny clean room, take a long nap, reorganize clothes and toys, 1 load of laundry, do back exercises
Wednesday the 28th-- 6am time alone with God, help boys clean room, take a long nap, reorganize clothes and toys, 1 load of laundry, do back exercises
Thursday the 29th-- 6am time alone with God, thoroughly clean kitchen, take a long nap,1 load of laundry, do back exercises
Friday the 30th-- 6am time alone with God, thoroughly clean living room, take a long nap, 1 load of laundry, do back exercises
Saturday the 31st-- 6am time alone with God, thoroughly clean bathrooms and hall, take a long nap, 1 load of laundry, stay up until 11pm and watch the ball drop in Times Square
Sunday the 1st-- try to squeeze in a time alone with God, go to church, take a long nap, go to church again
Monday the 2nd-- Take a day off (YEAH!), try real hard to fast and pray for a single day, take a couple of long naps
Cleaning is such a huge frustration. It's not my cup of tea. (I'd rather enjoy some Chai Latte.) But this way its not so overwhelming and my, now, older children are available for assistance. Besides these are their duties anyway.
It was my turn. Every year someone needs to plan the Christmas party for our large family. I found a nice place to have it, the community center across from the library in our small town. It was about 5 minutes from my home. It only cost $25 to rent for the day with a $50 returnable deposit. The center could hold about 75 people. When we get together there are about 40 of us. It also had a big kitchen and a well organized serving area. When I called to reserve in November only one day was left, December 23. I thought this was rather close to Christmas. I asked others in our family, no one objected.
The night turned out great. I spent the entire day preparing for the party with the help of my husband and children. Danny prepared a Christmas music CD and a "makeshift" CD player. Benjamin and Ginny helped me do last minute shopping. Ginny would remind from time to time details about the party or offer ideas to make it fun. They also helped me set up the tables at the community center. Samuel baked chocolate chip cookies while I was gone. Danny was the main taste tester of the cookies. Benjamin rolled, coated and baked snickerdoodle cookies. Jonathan made Nachos from 3 2 pound loaves of Velveeta cheese and Rotel sauce. Mom arrived a little early and helped me set up the food. Everyone brought a few dishes and a bottle of pop. There was a lot of food. My sister-in-law, Rachelle, made her hot punch which is fast becoming a family tradition.
Mom brought a bunch of Avon to hand out to everyone. (She slowly collects this through the year.) Everyone with children brought giant stockings that we used last year. (There are around 25 grandchildren.) We put the stockings in the hall outside our big room. Everyone brought small low cost gifts and some candy to put in the stockings. I mentioned on our family message board, if there was time and opportunity to try and make something. There were a variety of gifts and fun things for all the grandchildren. My sister Sharon painted everyone's name on an umbrella. My sister-in-law Rachelle crocheted beads on socks for the little girls. My other sisters, Nancy and Deena, made soft scarves for everyone. Although, my sister Penny wasn't there she had managed to give gifts to everyone. My brother Perry brought $5 gift cards from Quik Trip.
I love to again imagine that scene in my head. All of the stockings are about 3 feet tall and Deena had put their names on them last year with gold paint. They had a worn look to them from last year. When we finished cleaning up after eating I told all the kids they could go look in their stockings. So they easily heard me and ran into the big brick-floored hall and grabbed them. Zac, Holly, Alex, Josh, Reese, Abbie, Clinton, Samuel, Jonathan, Benjamin, Ginny, Tyler, Hannah, Ellen, Ethan, Elizabeth, Wesley, Nathan, and Kaitlyn, nineteen of Mom's grandchildren began their important task. All of them from ages 2 to 17 were strewn out across the floor as they began to sort through their big red bags of goodies. The little girl's sat in a group and showed each other their gifts as they went through them. Two-year-old Clint found an umbrella, not realizing if it was his or not, but just considered it a big fun toy to discover. Our little teenager, Holly, quietly looked through her bag of varied Christmas surprises. Even her big brother, Zac, a Senior in high school reverted back to being a kid for a while so he could enjoy the fun of the moment. Our boys grouped together as they dug through all their loot. I had fun going around just trying to capture the excitement in some snapshots taken with my old camera. Ever so often I had to stop . . . and enjoy the feeling . . . it's the buzz . . . the excitement that children bring when they don't even realize it. It was a great thing to watch them discover their gifts and then get excited in all the fun.
Their were some other "homemade" moments. Deena played the guitar while Danny played harmonica and my brother Kelly read the Christmas story from Luke 2. They used Samuel's new shiny black Bible. Then we had fun casually singing along with some simple Christmas songs Deena played. My brother Perry managed to get the guys together to sing two or three carols. When they sang We Three Kings they made their voices deep.
We had a good time. We missed all of our family members who weren't there. My little neice Adalyn was sick so her Mom and Dad stayed home with her. I want to have our Christmas celebration there again next year. I really hope we can work everything together to make next year even more memorable as we make it homemade and make some new family traditions.
I love Christmas. I love all the old traditional songs that have beeen played throughout the years. When I was a little girl I had a Christmas songbook Mom bought me at an old chain store called T,G & Y. It was bright pink and had a few children carolers on the front cover. It looked like a coloring book. There were probably about 15 songs in the book. I tried to learn them all. I think the only one I didn't learn was Good King Wenceles. I would always get it out for Christmas. I would save it and make sure my younger siblings didn't end up destroying it. It got worn over the years and then it finally got lost unless Mom still has it.
A few years ago, my husband and I decided to make a collection of our favorite Christmas songs and carols. You know what the difference between a carol and a song is don't you? A carol is a hymn that is found in the hymnbooks of Christian churches. So Danny went on the internet asking me to tell him the names of the best Christmas songs. I would tell him and then he would find the artist who sang them best. Like I've mentioned before Nat King Cole is his favorite Christmas singer. So we used his version for all the carols. Here's our list. I put my favorite ones first:
Brenda Lee, Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree
Burl Ives, Holly, Jolly Christmas
Jimmy Durante, Frosty the Snowman
Louis Armstrong, Winter Wonderland
Ella Fitzgerald, Let It Snow
Gene Autry, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer
Bobby Helms, Jingle Bell Rock
Andy Williams, Most Wonderful Time of the Year*
Nat King Cole, The Christmas Song (Chestnuts roasting . . .)
The Nutcracker: March (Opus 71)
Gene Autry, Upon the Housetop
Perry Como, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
Bing Crosby, White Christmas
The Carpenters, Sleigh Ride
Mel Torme, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
Elvis, I'll Have a Blue Christmas*
Mel Torme, Christmas Time Is Here (Charlie Brown Christmas Special theme song)
Bing Crosby, It's Beginning to Look Alot Like Christmas
Nat King Cole Christmas Music
The Christmas Song (Chestnuts roasting . . .)
Deck the Halls
Away In A Manger
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Hark, The Herald Angels Sing
O Little Town of Bethlehem
The First Noel
O Holy Night
Adeste Fideles (O Come All Ye Faithful)
*Haven't got these yet but still a favorite
We had our first snow of the 2005-06 winter season this past Wednesday, December 7. It came in the afternoon. This cold front was the coldest that we have seen in 10 years according to the weatherman. On Wed and Thurs, the night temperatures were hovering in single degree digits and around the 0 mark. My oldest son Samuel and I were Christmas shopping in Tulsa (a fitting activity) when it began.
One of the places we stopped was at Mardel near 51st and Harvard where they have a wide range of different Bibles to choose from. Samuel had left his Bible at our old church so we bought a new smaller one that had a snap on it. He got his name engraved on it for free too. While we waited for them to get it ready I drank some chocolate macadamia coffee and Samuel had hot spiced apple cider. It looked sharp when they finished. It was black leather with a gold dusting around the pages and his names spelled out in gold basic lettering. It looked like something he needed to carry while dressed in a black suit with gold cuff links and attending some notable formal affair.
Another stop we made was at Walgreen's at 31st and Garnett. I found some One-size-fits-all black gloves with white gripping dots on the palms for my children. I bought four pair all the same color so if one or two got lost at least someone would still have a matching pair. I also bought a few toys on sale. I wasn't very successful at hiding this from Samuel but oh, well, I tried!
It was bitterly cold on the way home but we couldn't hardly tell inside our warm car. The snow was falling so peacefully in chunks. Yeah, the sky was literally blowing chunks all over our car and we enjoyed it. I watched it fall as the sky had mostly darkened for the night. I watched it come down underneath the streetlights as we waited for our traffic light to turn. Samuel sat quietly staring out his window on the passenger side. I hoped he was liking the snow as much as me.
Wednesday, as I said, was extremely cold. I'm glad I didn't have to drive to work. It was Kim's turn. Stacey liked not driving too. (She had just finished a week's vacation in the tropically warm island of Barbados and desperately hates even the thought of being cold!) Kim did good taking us to and from work. When she arrived at my home after work we both liked the snowman we saw. Benjamin had made it. He used an old Cimarron pottery flower pot to tote snow to and from any thick layer of snow mass he could find. The snow was loose and fluffy so he wasn't able to roll a snowball on the ground until it grew big enough. He would just pack it in the pot and that helped it hold together. Benjamin's snowman was a small one, only about 2 1/2 feet tall. The head was as big as a large snowball. He put a little pot pie pan on his head for a hat.
Friday morning was very cold and icy because most of the snow had melted. I'm glad I didn't have to be out going to work on the slick streets. Something sad and scary happened though around 11am. A trailer house next door to our next door neighbor burned. Firetrucks, police cars and other various emergency vehicles lined our road and worked for about three hours to thoroughly put the fire out. We even saw two firemen strap on oxygen tanks. It completely burned. We looked at it today. It's a skeleton with ash and soot-laden junk strewn around. The family got out safely. Thank God. To the best of my knowledge it was a Grandma and two small children. Samuel said they are living in another trailer right now. I told my children to find out where they are so maybe we could help them somehow.
Today is Sunday. Benjamin's snowman has halfway died. He still has his head. It didn't roll off and disappear like what has happened to some of our past snowmen. Instead it's stuck on the side of the midsection. This snow was an early snow for Oklahoma. I'm excited to think of the three or four more snows we'll probably get. I know Benjamin will be glad to test and experiment with the frozen powdery white stuff. He'll have fun taking on the challenge of building himself a bigger, better, stronger, taller snowman.
Lately I've been trying to memorize Bible verses as a way to focus on Jesus during Christmas. I consider that keeping my mind focused on Bible verses is a gift I could give Him. But in an amazing way He's giving back. I am also involved in a Sunday School class in which we need to memorize a verse each week. I looked at the lesson this morning and much to my amazement it was the one I was already memorizing. What are the odds of that "just happening?", very small. I have been working on Romans 12:1-2 and in the lesson we are to memorize Romans 12:2. At another time after I had just memorized Matthew 11:28-30 it happened again . A few days later I heard the verse mentioned on a radio program and also that same day I noticed it on my coffee mug that I hadn't used in a while. I'm encourage to know that Jesus welcomes my gift of verse memorization and shows me in kind gentle ways.
Do you have an interest in learning about the birth of Jesus? Did you know it's only found in two of the four Gospels of the New Testament? Do you know all the people involved in the Christmas story? In this blog I organized it to help any one who would want to know.
Here are the people involved in the Christmas story:
Gabriel the angel-- sent to Zachariah, Mary and possibly Joseph (Bible just says an angel)
(baby) John-- Son of Zachariah and Elizabeth, 2nd cousin to Jesus, grew up to tell others that the promised Messiah was coming
Shepherds-- labourers of low degree, usually poor
Simeon--in temple when Jesus was presented to the Lord by parents, he prophesied about the baby
Anna-- elderly woman who was a prophetess who stayed in the temple praying and fasting
Wise men-- The Bible does not say there were three of them and it does not specifically say they were kings.
The story is found in Matthew 1:18-2:12 and Luke 1:5-2:40. The Luke version gives most of the details. Matthew's version gives more details about Joseph and tells of the wise men (Magi). There is a gap of about 400 years between the Old Testament and the New Testament in which people did not hear from God. The part that tells of the night Jesus was Born is found in Luke 2:1-20. The entire story can be broken up into 11 passages:
Luke 1:5-25 Birth of John foretold
Luke 1:26-38 Birth of Jesus foretold
Luke 1:39-45 Elizabeth's song
Luke 1:46-56 Mary's song
Luke 1:57-66 Birth of John
Luke 1:67-80 Zachariah prophesies of John
Luke 2:1-7 Jesus' birth
Luke 2:8-20 Angels tell Shepherds
Luke 2:21-24 Naming and presentation of Jesus
Luke 2:25-35 Simeon
Luke 2:36-40 Anna
Matthew 1:18-25 Birth of Jesus
Matthew 2:1-12 Wise men visit Jesus
When Luke tells the story, he tells of the praise offered to God by those involved. The church during Jesus' time enjoyed singing songs to God.
Elizabeth's song-- Luke 1:42-45
Mary's song-- Luke 1:46-55
Zacharias' praise-- 1:67-79
Angel's tiding of great joy-- Luke 2:10-14
Simeon's blessings to God-- Luke 2:28-35
Interesting Facts from the Bible about Jesus' birth:
1. Gabriel-- angel who stands in the presence of God
2. After Zachariah talked with Gabriel he couldn't speak until their baby was born
3. When pregnant Elizabeth visited pregnant Mary, Elizabeth's baby leaped in her womb
4. When Mary and Joseph went to the temple to dedicate Jesus, according to Jewish custom they had to bring an offering, (an animal that would be burned as an offering in the temple), they used a pair of birds because they were poor and not able to afford larger animals possibly such as lambs.
5. The wise men didn't visit Jesus on the night of his birth. He was a young child and in a house when they came.
A fun way to teach the story to children is through the book, The Advent Book by Jack and Kathy Stockman. It's a big thick book with a door on each page. Someone can open the door and read a key Bible verse from the Christmas story and see a picture that illustrates the verse. There are 25 doors in the book. One can be opened each day leading up to the 25th.
Does God always hear our prayers? Yeah, I know He does. As a Christian, I've prayed lots of prayers through out my life. Sometimes they were really serious because I didn't want someone to die. Other times I was half awake and trying to do the right thing and have a quiet time with God. Some times I have prayed in anger because I was mad at a situation. Other times I have prayed without speaking and my mind would wonder away to other thoughts. But I know for sure that God remembers all the times of prayer I have had with Him.
About 9 or 10 years ago my husband and I were talking about prayer. I wasn't sure how to organize my prayer time so he made a list for me. We listed our own family, extended family and friends, and people who are in the government. He organized it well. The list would keep me focused.
I prayed that list for several months. I even mailed one of the congressman from Oklahoma, Tom Coburn, and told him what I was doing. He mailed me a letter back telling me the names of his family members and thanked me. I was also praying for another of our congressman, Steve Largent. My husband and I helped in his election campaign. At a fund raiser he was able to talk to Mr. Largent and told him how I helped make phone calls. Steve signed a campaign sticker for my husband to give to me. J.C. Watts was another one of our congressman that I admired so I prayed for him too. When my husband and I were at the state capitol building I saw him standing in the distance so I went to him, shook his hand and mentioned I had been praying for him. He smiled and thanked me. On one other occasion I was able to meet another politician on my list. It was our governor at the time, Frank Keating. Danny and I went to a fund raiser in a home. It was for a guy who was running for a state senate position. There I was able to mention to our governor I had been praying for him.
The main reason I write my blogs are to give my children remembrances, more than just photos. I want them to know the important things in life. Things I had to figure out on my own as an adult. At least with these blogs they'll have records they can read through and learn. With this blog I want it to be known that prayer is very important. And God hears every prayer. He heard my prayers for government leaders and allowed me the opportunity to come in contact with them and offer encouragement.
In Christmases past I've had the privilege of being pregnant with each of my four children. During two of them I was "great with child" and would deliver in January. I always liked to imagine what Mary felt like being pregnant. It seems each of those times I would learn something new about what she was like.
Several years ago, Mark Lowry, famous for being a Christian comedian and singer in the Bill Gaither Vocal Band, was asked to write a Christmas musical for his church.* It was during that time he began laying the foundational inspiration for the song he wrote about Mary. Did Mary wonder about the newborn she held in her arms, about his future and what he would be like? She knew he was different because "she had not known a man" and an angel visited her and told her what to name him.
After a few years Mary Lowry worked with Buddy Greene, a famous harmonica player and they completed the song. They titled it, Mary Did You Know? Today it is a modern classic. The words will make you stop and think. I love the irony of it all . . . a poor couple delivered their firstborn baby in a barn and laid him in a animal feeding trough. Did they know that someday He would have the utmost amazing ability to become the king of kings. I'm glad that Jesus had such a humble life because no one could ever think that He was too rich for them to come to. In fact, in the Bible, Jesus spoke the word of welcome to anyone willing to hear. He told us to come to Him when we are weighted down with heavy burdens. Because, He said "I am meek and lowly in heart." Jesus said His burden is light (compared to the stressful struggles we can get ourselves into.) He said that in Matthew 11:28-30.
Here are the lyrics to the beautiful song Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene wrote:
Mary did you know,
That your baby boy, will one day walk on water?
Did you know,
That your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know,
That your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered,
Will soon deliver you.
Mary did you know,
That your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Did you know,
That your baby boy will calm the storm with his hand?
Did you know,
That your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby,
You've kissed the face of God.
Oh, Mary did you know?
The blind will see,
The deaf will hear,
The dead will live again,
The lame will leap,
The dumb will speak,
The praises of the Lamb.
Mary did you know,
That your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Did you know,
That your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know,
That your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you're holding,
Is the Great, I Am.
I encourage you to listen to the song and ponder it. You can hear the song on from my heart1.com (sung by Kenny Rogers and Wynonna). Type in the keyword: Mary did you know.
*Christianity Today Int., Nov./Dec., vol. 40, No. 6, Pg. 18