Showing posts from December, 2013

The Struggle to Find Christmas

The presents have been opened and played with. Some have been broken already and others are slated for return. The ham has been devoured. The button up pants have been replaced with drawstring "comfy" pants with extra room. The family is drowsy on the couch watching a movie.

We are all sated with the afterglow of Christmas.

I don't know why I doubted that I would get here -- to contentment and joy.

This week was not good for me. While in my soul I knew "the reason for the season" and I fervently believe in letting "every heart prepare Him room," I honestly struggled to feel it my heart and mind.

Last Friday was the worst. I found myself banging pots and pans around and being generally grumpy with my children and my husband. No one could do anything right. I couldn't do anything right.

Everything everyone did annoyed me.

The entire "Duck Dynasty" Phil Robertson debacle reallly annoyed me.

And I didn't know why.

So I asked God to tell…

Some Kind of Amazing

There is something kind of amazing about friends coming together to help one another out.

I had a wonderful opportunity to see this in action this weekend.

On a recent trip to Tanzania to work with Character 101 on various educational projects, I got my hands on some hand-crafted bags made from Kitenge fabric -- which is indigenous to Tanzania and East Africa. It was a dream come true for me.

About two years ago, I had the idea of buying bags from local artisans and then reselling them here in the U.S. as a revenue source for this non-profit. I figured that the purchase of bags over here helping students to get books over there was a marriage made in heaven.

However, at that time, we couldn't find what I was looking for and there was too much start-up activity with the organization to think about trying to chart that territory on our own.

So, we shelved the idea (pun intended).

However, a few weeks ago, I believe that God orchestrated a divine appointment with a fellow university…

In the Nick of Time...

Today I'm grateful for pants.

Pants for my six-year-old to be precise.

We have two boys and two girls.

We have one income.

My husband and I just returned from Tanzania a few weeks ago and every bit of extra money we could leave there, we left.

We got back and apparently, we ran out of pants for the boys. Both boys have grown, it went from shorts weather to pants weather in the last two weeks, additional holes have been ripped in the knees of most of our jeans, or the pants gremlin came while we were gone.

Because of the aforementioned trip, I did not make a big deal of it. There were a couple of pairs that I found and were using. When you know that kids on the other side of the world have only one set of clothes, this is not a crisis.

Until it kinda became one.

On Saturday night, our three eldest children performed in one of two performances of the children's musicals on the weekend.

Once again, the pants issue was...well, an issue. The pair that I had fished out of the dryer…

'Tis the Season to be Giving

So far, so good with our "Self on the Shelf" Giving Elves that I started this year (albeit a bit late in the month).

I forgot to put them out on Sunday, and figured that they needed a "day of rest" and thankfully, the kids bought it.

I have had a lot of moments of wracking my brain right before bed for the next day's tableau or worse, bolting out of bed just as I was headed towards Dreamville. A couple of mornings, my jet lag has come in handy -- giving me ample time to plot and photograph something for that morning.

We seem to have picked up steam too and the kids actually are looking forward to each morning to see what the Giving Elves, Joy and Noel are up to.

Here are the latest ones we have done (see previous posts for the inaugural and second day tableaus.) You can follow each day's tableau on my Mosaic Momma FB page.

Give your time and energy to help clean up around the house or someone else's house.

Spread Christmas joy and cheer by decorating o…

Self on the Shelf: Joyeaux Noel

The launch of the inaugural "Shelf on the Shelf" a.k.a., Giving Elves, went great today.

The children were surprised to see the elves on the kitchen table today and eagerly read their letter of introduction and request to have them give the elves names.

And so they got down to business and created a brainstorming session and then a democratic voting process for each child to submit their choice.

And it was voted that "Joy" (my fave and fitting after my post yesterday) and "Noel" were the winners (although "Minty" came in a strong third).

We did a very "holiday thing" afterwards by making crock pot hot chocolate and as the normal bickering ensued, I was able to point back to the letter about how "words and names are important" and can give life or death.

After my post last night about my this "Christmas Giving Project," I received a couple requests for my letter and my expanding list of giving ideas/activities.

I am…

Self on the Shelf: A Christmas Rebelution

I have been discontented with the way we've celebrated Christmas for several years now.

At first I couldn't quite put my finger on what bothered me.

The constant creeping commercialism that seems to show itself earlier and earlier into the Fall months is partially to blame.

And, yes the paper was ripped off and ribbon was shredded all too soon. Sometimes there would be a hummph of displeasure over not getting the anticipated gift, or worse the long silence staring into the gift box that communicates more than words would express.

But beyond that, there was just a general dissatisfaction on my part over what the "holidays" has become in our culture. I knew I wanted more for my children then gorging on gifts after suffering through the "Christmas story" in the Bible beforehand. I wanted more than sick tummies from eating too many sweets from bloated stockings. I just wanted more.

It helped when I introduced an advent called The Jesse Tree. I felt like it rea…

Choosing Joy

I've been home a little more than 24 hours.

Most of the dirty clothing and shoes have been washed. It made me a bit sad to do it, actually. It's not that I wanted to wear clothing that wasn't clean. Rather there is a certain scent to Tanzania and you cannot help but to carry it home with you. Granted, not everything you smell in the city is pleasant, but there is a something that cannot be expressed except to say that when you breathe in a bit of it, you know where you are.

That's why when I mentioned that our suitcases smelled like Tanzania, my sister (who has been twice before) immediately bent on down and took in a big whiff.

It made me a little sad to wash all of that away and replace it with my squeaky clean American laundry detergent.

Thankfully it would take infinitely more to sanitize all of the images, emotions, memories and resolutions that have come from this journey, this safari.

In my last post, I was determined not to forget what I had seen and was afrai…

In Your Eyes

Yesterday morning when we drove back from Ngorongoro to Arusha, we were oddly quiet in our Land Cruiser. 
There was a lot to reflect on and think about. While I was so thankful to have been able to return to Tanzania (I honestly thought my trip in 2008 might be my first and only), I wondered once again if I would ever get to come back.

The thought of not doing so filled me with such sadness. Even though the car was quiet and the view was breathtaking, I felt like I needed more "space," so I grabbed my iphone and earbuds and tried to find something to suit my mood.

Because of the amount of photos I planned to take on this trip, I pared down my apps and music considerably, so without wi-fi, I didn't have a lot to work with.

I listened to a few songs, but then happened upon "In Your Eyes" which was originally performed by Peter Gabriel, but was sung by Nichole Nordeman on my version.
I've heard this song many times before. It's one of my favorite "old…

I Carry These Things in My Heart

At long last, I am finally caught up with the week's work we engaged in before leaving for a safari on Friday morning.

To be truthful, going was almost the last thing I really wanted to be doing. Rylie and I had decided weeks ago to splurge on a combined 15th anniversary/40th birthday for both of us this year and use our own money for a two-day safari.
But on the eve of our depature, my thoughts were still back with the things we had seen and the people we had met.
Leaving on safari felt almost obscenely decadent. But we were committed, so we packed everything up and left the apartment at 8 a.m. in the Roy Safaris Land Cruiser with Charles, our driver, who has a daughter who guessed it...four-years-old. (I cannot even make this stuff up!)
The drive out of the city center into the countryside took awhile. By now, we were somewhat used to the congested streets and busy sidewalks full of commerce and bustle. However, no two days are alike and on Friday I again marveled at …