Sunday, December 28, 2008

Mrs. Mayes's Way With Words

I have never read A Year in the World, Under the Tuscan Sun or any of Frances's other books, but I do buy her calendars. At least, I have the past 2 years. I love the quotes they include with the photos of her beloved Italian landscape. Her writing touches me. I connect with her statements though I have never been under the Tuscan sun. I thought I would try to capture scenes from my own world that resonate with the same truth she observes in her world. The quotes below each photo are from my 2008 calendar:
~"As you get older, time, that delicious, slowly oozing, honeyed time you squandered, now has become a nasty roadrunner stopping for nothing."
~"What do I want on those magic blank days? I want the mental equivalent of a bottomless black pond surrounded by long grasses and a willow tree. reclaim my childhood right to explore -all sorts of pleasures attending my interests..."
~"When you do what you know how to do too many times, it is useful to shake off the lethargy of custom. ...You may come back to what you have always done, but it will be with new insight."

"the further inside you a place moves the more your identity is intertwined with it."

"Every day a heaping basket of red, red, red tomatoes. I look on these brimming baskets with more pleasure than my first new car..."

"I am longing for the days of dolce far niente, sweet to do nothing..."

"We love living so close to the pulse of the seasons"

"A moment. Of such a moment, myths are made."

"The summer sun hits like a religious conviction."

"Behind the pleasure and fresh beauty of a sunrise, I detect an old and primitive response : The day has come again, no dark god swallowed it during the night"

"The miracle of no technology - how amazingly it restores human importance."

"...always take the turn down that intriguing little path..."

"What I never anticipated was the absolute sweet joy of everyday life - la dolce vita."
Hope you are looking forward to the new year and all the possibilities of promises held within it!


"Justice is what love looks like - in public" ~ Dr. Cornel West

Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Living - Life Giving Word

"The Word became flesh and dwelt among us" - I woke with these words breaking through the dream-cobwebs of my sleepy mind this morning. Pictures of God speaking and visible words coming from His mouth becoming strings that began to be knit together in the darkness of a womb. The Word. Fleshed out. Actual living words. Words of promise and life and hope, spoken before time began were being encased in the flesh of baby. Breath of Heaven that gave life to Adam at the beginning now becoming that breath to give life in a new way each and every day til the end of time.
Every year it seems to impact me in a different manner. I know it is real. I know Truth. But in moments like this morning, when Holy Spirit overshadows me and hovers over the deep of my sleep, there is a new birth within - a sense that life will never look or feel the same.
Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Times of Tradition - #5

Tradition #5: Christmas Dishes!

When J & I got married we had no money. I knew nothing about weddings, or gift registries, or what was traditional - I just wanted to be married! I found out years later that most people register for a certain pattern of China and friends and family order pieces for them to make up the sets.

Our cupboards were a literal menagerie of thrifted and hand-me-down items - nothing was specially picked or chosen carefully to suit our tastes.

When C. was two, I received a catalogue from Gorahm with wedding china and I began to dream. I knew that China was one of those things that was taken out on special occasions and passed down from generation to generation if it survived.

I love Christmas, and when I came across the Christmas China section in the catalogue I just knew that was what I would begin to buy. When I placed the first call (we didn't have internet back then) to buy a 4 piece place setting, it was just after the holidays and I was using gift $. The operator told me that the pattern I had chosen was on closeout and was marked down 75%! But that wasn't all. It had already been marked down 10% prior to Christmas, so it was a total markdown of 85%!! It was only the complete 20 piece settings that were marked down though. 5 four piece settings. Normal price was $250. At the markdown I was able to get 2 twenty piece sets for $75! God had totally blown away my hopes and blessed me beyond what I had ever dared dream of!

We have used them every Christmas since. They add another dimension of significance to our celebration. We love pulling them out of the box and setting the table for this one special day. We use them for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert! Then we lovingly pack them away again in anticipation for the next year.

December Photo Project - D23

Wool Sweatery Warmth!
~click photo to see more from participants~

Monday, December 22, 2008

December Photo Project - D22

Photo by Cassia.
~click photo to see more from the participants~

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Times of Tradition - #5

Tradition #5:
The Christmas Letter. I have friends who blog and they won't be sending a letter because they figure whoever reads their blog already knows what is going on in their lives. I probably could have done that this year. However, because this is a public blog again, there are certain issues and life stuff I don't go into on it - though I would love to spill my guts sometimes! Our letters are a little more personal usually. Not so much this year. I like to write. Not so much this year. I wrote and rewrote this letter 4 different times, 4 different ways, 4 different styles. I wanted to really let everyone know what we are going through, but who wants to read about flagellation at Christmas time? So I kept it to a list of events that we enjoyed and are thankful for.
We always include a photo of the kids with the letter - either photocopied on it or seperately. I have the originals for the past 15 years! Pretty soon the kids will be gone and ya'll will have to settle for a photo of us old codgers instead.
I'll post this years letter below, though you may want to wait for it's arrival in your mailbox. :o)

Paul Family 2008 To-do Lists

* Ski Brigder with Tofer until April.
* Witness MacGyver (aka Mark Foster) fix a snowmobile with branches after I run it into a tree.
* MC @ VBS @ YAA in the snow even though it’ll be June. “Ah Ha!”
* Take staff to U23D, get them to wear sunglasses and do “rock star” photos so I can create a poster.
* Hack, I mean, play in Young Life golf tournament with Dan Barnes, Don Murray, Scott Morales & Scott’s behemoth driver. “Everybody pretend to putt! Here comes the owner of the house I just hit.”
* Be interrogated for accreditation for 3 hours. Wax eloquent. Eat, drink & be merry for tomorrow we can drink no more wine.
* Welcome incoming MSU freshmen @ Catapalooza. Give them all a water bottle with the label you design as a “shout out” to Alliance Fellowship!
* Preach- twice, & lead worship, & transport everything to and from MSU, & don’t sleep the night previous.
* Continue meeting weekly with younger guys who seem to think I can help them. Always meet where you can get coffee.
* Meet often with older men because I need help. Always meet where you can get coffee.
* Drive to Moses Lake for Dad’s 68th birthday. 11 of us will be together for the first time in years – and Conner will drool for us non-stop.
* Culminate 2 year plan to have ‘Worship Without Borders’ conference with Tim & Maryl Smith. Make sure it’s after several days of long meetings & have little to no sleep so that you are in a dweeb state of mind - & still see God give fresh vision & life to the team.
* Present vision for home groups. Recruit vision team. Wisdom in the council of many.
* Be 'Techew Cashwa' to the 3-5 year olds. …"So then David-" “Hey Techew, look at my new shoes!” “Yes. They’re very cool, but let’s learn about David, Ok?” Bring “delicious surprises”, just so I can hear Christopher Burcham’s passionate “Mmmmmm!”
* File FAFSA & apply to colleges. Because, I so enjoy filling my days with paperwork & answering the same question 50 times.
* Road trip with Mom to Crown College in Minnesota. *Note to self* Never say, “I’m at a ¼ tank, I’ll fill up at the next gas station,” when crossing North Dakota.”
* Be awarded $14000 in scholarships. & after realizing you still need $14000 more for a year at Crown, proceed to next item on list.
* Apply for jobs. At least a dozen. Have everyone who talks to you want to hire you, then make the decision to work at The Garage.
* Work.
* Never turn down an opportunity to love people. Take co-workers to coffee, call friends to arrange connection time, walk down the stairs nightly to tuck in Minda & Tofer
* Work.
* Attend College/Career Retreat. Be refreshed. Fall in love with the Owens & the Hunters.
* Sing. Ok – good posture, right into the microphone, hands at sides, eyes open…
* Work.
* Paint room. “So, I’ve narrowed it down to these 50 colors, what do you think?”
* Snowboard until April. Lose season pass so you have to go to the lodge each time & be issued one for the day.
* Snow blast Camp. Let Uber-Arm McLarge Huge win at arm wrestling & come home with one of the worst colds of your life - pass on to Mom.
* Become a drummer. “Hey, Tofer, can you play a bomp-bomp here?”
* Lead worship @ 30 hr. Famine. AKA sing-n-starve. Talk Minda into playing bass with me. “Krispy kremes, krispy kremes are what I long for. Krispy kremes are what I need…”
* Take the TSA…er..the…whatever – that test for college.
* Teach myself Russian. Enjoy the looks on people’s faces when I tell them – in Russian – that I understand what they are saying.
* Get my permit. Just in time for the snow season. Ask, “Can I drive?” every time I get in the van. Be cute if it doesn’t work.
* Help little, old ladies have firewood for the winter.
* Counsel @ YAA for a week. With an additional 3 weeks of recovery.
* Play basketball. Every Thursday. All winter & spring.
* Begin insanely stupid cartoon blog. Don’t say I din’t warn you
* Become a music guru. Write, sing, play guitar, drum, play keys, dance, record, mix, drive my family insane replaying a loop repeatedly.
* Have Grama Judy teach me to knit. And someday to pearl.
* Babysit. “ Let’s pretend you respect me and do whatever I say! Ok?”
* Attend Archaeology Symposium. Be mistaken for an Egyptologist while explaining the value of scarabs to Papa.
* Play *gulp* bass *double gulp* in front of people.
* Raise $ for World Vision. Meet a bunch of cute, elderly people who sponsor me for the 30 hr. famine for $500.
* Sew doll clothes. Become extremely talented at rethreading the entire surger, and breaking needles.
* Work @ YAA. Wash 3000 dishes, yet somehow enjoy every minute!
* Get Karyn here and keep her as long as possible!!
* Take SAT. “Would you like a headache to go with those questions?”
* Shakespeare in the Park. “If you can look into the seeds of time & say which grain will grow, & which will not – Speak.” & tell me what play I saw.
* Begin wearing makeup. Hmmm…Wow…yah…wipe some of that blush off.
* Enter into final year of homeschooling. No more teacher, no more books. Especially no more calculus!
* Take Photos. Use all the newborn babies as your guinea pigs. All that sweetness captured on my hard drive!
* Mentor. You must be getting old if others are asking you life questions.
* Be available to your family. “You want to invite how many kids over for a sledding party?... o. k. … Let me make sure I have enough cocoa...”

2008 was a year of ‘good-byes’ for our family. Once again we dealt with the death of a dear friend who was our biggest emotional supporter and prayer warrior. A few months later our church made cutbacks. There is a hole in life when something is cut away & we have tremendously missed those we worked alongside. Hopes and dreams we held in a state of high hope have been deffered. Difficult as it has been, we are thankful that suffering is not the end. “I might weep, but still my faith rests in You.” “Weeping endures for the night, but joy comes with the morning!” A toast to 2009, “May it be The Morning!” Merry Christmas, & God bless us, every one!

December Photo Project - D21

Wine, Cheese, & Chocolate night with friends!
J drank hot cider, I avoided the chocolate and we both had a marvelous time!

~click the photo to see more from the participants~

Saturday, December 20, 2008

December Photo Project - D20

Sledding party! The kids had a few friends over today to sled, board, eat chili, play games, and drink cocoa!

Times of Tradition - #4

I'm posting this today because I made it and have the photos!
Tradition #4:

I don't know when (j's) Mom started doing this, but it fast became one of our very favorite things about Christmas. We went to J's parent's every year. All of our family was in town, so we would load up in our jammies and trek across the lake to Grama's house (actually the kids declared in Auntie Anna's house). Mom would put this in the oven as we gathered in the family room around the fire to open stockings and gifts. It bakes at a low heat for a long time and it is a perfect, tastey no-fuss meal for a busy morning - especially one where you want to enjoy family and not slave over the stove in the kitchen. We eat it with a special Cinnamon bread that was passed down from my side of the family, chilled pears and o.j. (or hot coffee for the adults!)
Here's the recipe if anyone wants to try it. :o)
Main Body:
8 slices of bread - chunked
2.5 cups milk
4 eggs
2# Jimmy Dean style sausage
2 cups grated cheese
cover bottom of 13x9 with bread chunks. beat together eggs and milk. brown sausage and drain. Spread sausage evenly over bread. pour egg mixture evenly over that. distribute cheese over that. Cover and refridgerate for at least 8 hours. (I made it today and will freeze it until Christmas Eve.)
1 can cream soup (I use chicken, Mom uses mushroom)
1/2 c. milk
JUST BEFORE BAKING whisk together, pour evenly over casserole layers. Preheat oven to 300. cook uncovered for 1.5 hours. (I cover it with aluminum foil if it starts to get too brown).
That's all there is to it. If you ask my kids what one of their favorite parts of Christmas was, THIS would be their answer! Let me know if you try it!

Christmas Q's

Heather asked us to do this. It's one I think I've done before, but what the hey!
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping Paper! I used to wrap professionally in the pre-J days! I love to make smooth creases and tie the packages up with ribbons. Wrapping is theraputic.
2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial ~ Allergies prevent me from walking into my back yard and cutting one down to bring into the house - how sad is that?
3. When do you put up the tree? Since Tof has gotten old enough to help - ASAP after Thanksgiving.
4. When do you take the tree down? The day before school starts again.
5. Do you like eggnog? not even the scent!
6. Favorite gift received as a child? I got a pet radio. They were these transistor radios inside the body of a stuffed animal. I would fall asleep curled up with Hepsaba singing to me. She was a mouse with a mob cap and aproned dress. :o) I had her until I got married!
8. Easiest person to buy for? Tof this year.
9. Do You have a nativity scene? 4! One in the window, One under the tree for kids to play with, one all in one piece that sits on the Organ, & one in an ornament on the tree.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail definately! I am a tactile person!
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? 5 disc CD changer. J wanted it, I got it -- from him.
12. Favorite Christmas Movie? As a child - A Charlie Brown Christmas. As an Adult - too many! It's a Wonderful Life, The Nativity Story, Annie, Elf, Miralcle on 34th, Prancer, Charlie Brown, Rudolph claymation, ...
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? all year long!
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Not as a gift. I have taken things to Goodwill for others to buy.
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Christmas Breakfast Casserole (tradition post coming about this soon!)
16. Lights on the tree? Yes - all White and tiny.
17. Favorite Christmas song? Pretty much all of them. I'm waiting for one of my guys to write my all time favorite, though.
18. Travel for Christmas or stay home? Stay home - so sad. We always have Christmas eve service to do, & then there are the 3 treacherous mountain passes, not to mention the Storm warnings in effect for Wasington State this week.
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Thank You Mr. Burl Ives - yes I do!
20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Angel - we've had her since we were married! (thanks to my Mommy)
21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Morning! We get up, start a fire, put on Christmas music, get the coffee goin', pop the casserole in the oven, and call the kids upstairs!
22. Hardest thing about this time of the year? I think, for me, it is the sadness I feel for those who don't believe Jesus came.
23. Favorite ornament theme or color? White and Red (big surprise there!) or Aqua and Silver.
24. Favorite Christmas dinner? Ham with the carrots and potatoe wedges cooked in with it, potatoe rolls, Garlic Dills, olives to make frog fingers with and Sparkling Cider.
25. What do you want for Christmas this year? Everything I really want is too expensive and pie-in-the-sky-ish. I'm so loved by my family, that is really all I could ask for. I enjoy watching them open what I have pondered and considered and chosen more than receiving -Honest! I'm not a great receiver.

Friday, December 19, 2008

December Photo Project - D19

Cassia took Kaija to a new movie for her birthday. Minda and I tagged along too. It was one of our favorite books 6 years ago, and now it is an amazing movie.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

December Photo Project - D18

These photos aren't the best, but they are moments I never want to forget.

We had a talent night at church. Tof performed an original composition, "Chirstmas Has Called Us Home". Cassia and J sang a duet to "Mary Did You Know?"

~Click photo to see more from the participants~

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

December Photo Project - D17

On the 6th day of Christmas my One Truest Love gave to me, a sunrise that made me catch my breath, & snowscenes that made my heart sing.
~Click the photos to see more from the participants~

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

December Photo Project - D16

Crisp and Clear @ -28 with blue skies!

~click to see other photos from the participants~

Monday, December 15, 2008

Times of Tradition - #3

This is one of our FAVORITE traditions. We have to wait on pins and needles for it sometimes because it is totally dependant on God's graciousness! It requires one very important ingredient that only He can provide!

Tradition #3:
Snow Ice Cream! When I was a little girl my mom would wait for the second snowfall of the year (the first one often cleans the air of dust and pollutants, she said, so she would never take the 1st snow) and then she would set out a bowl to catch enough to make us ice cream! It's simple, but OH so good! It doesn't keep, so you have to have your "eaters" armed with spoons and ready!
The process is simple. Get a bowl full of snow. This is my Kitchenaid mixer large bowl.

To that add a Tablespoon (or a little more) of flavoring (your choice), & 1/2 c. of sugar. Then gradually pour cream over the snow. (Add a bit - stir - add more - stir) Until the snow pulls together and has the consistency of soft serve ice cream. It is usually flaky and powdery until you get enough cream on it. Then it looks like this -19, 17, & 15 and they still ask when we are going to have snow ice cream. They still stop me as I'm walking through the dairy section and point to the cream with big puppy dog eyes, begging for me to not pass it by. They still act like little kids when they finally get to have it!

Times of Tradition - #2

I'm a week behind on our tradition posts. Life is just a little busy around here! Sorry if you were waiting for it and thanks for the kick in the behind S, S, & S! I'm going to put up this week's and last week's so I'm back on track! Don't forget to pop over to Heather's and see the Whittaker's traditions!


This is a newer tradition for the Paul family, but it is one we really sink our teeth into! The cookie exchange!
Guess what cookie I made 6 dozen of this year? Heather's winner! (click the photo to find out what I mean) A friend invites several ladies to the exchange. We each bake 6 dozen. When we exchange, each of us ends up with a variety of 6 dozen others to take home.
I love this not just for the practicality of it, but for the Relational aspect. It's always a time for catching up. Many of us don't see each other often throughout the year, so this is our chance to find out what has been going on since we last saw one another. We leave our kids with the husbands, and we laugh, & eat & chatter! So much fun! & Yummy!

My waistline is thankful it only rolls around once a year!