Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas lambs

Today some friends called and invited us to go see some baby lambs. Warm,fleecy, wiggling in my arms. Tiny bundles bleating, hopping and full of life, born on Christmas morning. A bright interlude in a grey misty day.

Reflecting on the blessing of this passing year, with grace covering mistakes and love multiplied and looking forward with hope for the new. Grace and Peace to you and yours in this new year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Here's some of what we were up to in the days preceding Christmas. We really wanted to make our kids some gifts this year. Ella borrowed The Princess and the Pea from the library and I read it no less than three times a day the whole time we had it at the request of Ella who fell in love with the story. I was reminded of this sweet little play set and knew it would be perfect for the Bella girl. I rounded up some pretty leftover fabric scraps and sewed the bag and lots of little mattresses. I decided to buy a princess for it instead of making a paper doll. She especially likes the tiny pocket that holds the peas and I love watching her chat away to herself while she plays.

Josh hid away in the basement with a wonderful little carpentar's assistant (and very good secret keeper)building a kitchen for the girls. Needless to say they were delighted on Christmas morning and there is no shortage of tea parties and cupcake baking around here. Juden got a real archer's bow and arrows and a knight's tunic to match.

It has been a wonderful December of celebration and family,fires, cocoa, Mickey's Christmas Carol, parades,friends,busyness and peaceful times, and most importantly gratitude and worship to our manger born King.
Josh's mom prepared a wonderful feast for us on Christmas and Josh and I had a quiet Christmas night and watched The Nativity. If you haven't seen it, you should. It was a beautiful rendering of this story and reminded me how much I want to go to Bethlehem, Nazareth, Jerusalem etc. and see, feel, walk those roads, those places that His feet trod. The place where the sky erupted with starlight and angels' voices, the place He spent His earthly days. I have been so grateful for our times of family worship. Not always quiet or uninterrupted but God moved in us despite our brokenness,and our distractions. One night after reading,prayers and singing together, Juden told me how much he loved the Bible so much. I told him that we need to be so thankful for His Word because there are some people that don't have it or have it in their language. His face dropped with sadness and he asked me if we could give them all of ours except one. This conversation and his precious heart which so wanted to give, spawned what I believe will be a new tradition. Right after this conversation a pamphlet came in the mail with our Compassion letter specifically asking for donations to help provide Bibles to children without, and Juden was thrilled. We talked about Jesus' words, " Whatever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me." We placed a jar for our family to collect money to give to Compassion to help feed and provide Bibles to children.
I was so humbled and thankful to watch him look for jobs, and eagerly collect little fistful of coins to drop into his jar for Jesus' birthday present. And I thought to myself, "Am I this eager and open handed to give of what's been given to me?" I think Juden found more joy in figuring out how to give Jesus a birthday present than he did in getting his own. I think he began to learn that it is more blessed to give than to receive and to look outside of himself to the needs of others. What tender mercy that He stirs the heart of a child and stirs in mine.

Hope you had a warm and merry Christmas!

Friday, December 25, 2009

the weary world rejoices

"Was there a moment, known only to God, when the galaxies paused in their dance for a fraction of a second, and the Word, who had called it all into being, went with all his love into the womb of a young girl, and the universe started to breathe again, and the ancient harmonies resumed their song, and the angels clapped their hands for joy?"
~Madeleine L'Engle~

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Advent* to come to*

"Advent literally means "to come to" which is exactly what we believe Jesus Christ has done-he has "come to" his people to save us from our sins."

Every night we gather by the fire and candle light, we become hushed and we wait, listen,worship and seek Him, expectant. All of our special advent Christmas and Advent books are out. The kids have loved our evening ritual and eagerly wait for the candles to be lit and the new door on the advent calender to be opened. In addition we are joining our church family through Advent passages that you can find here. Words are read while little fingers arrange and re-arrange Mary, Joseph, wise men, shepherds and baby Jesus. We ponder how our God loved us enough to become one of us, to bring us back to Him. On bended knee we wait, and quiet our hearts to take in this miracle. I can not express how very precious and holy these evenings have been, what a reminder to be in love with His word and the things that begin to stem from that. It has again reminded me that it is all that we need. Though we enjoy lots of the festivities that surround Christmas it all becomes dim in comparison to the one Creator King who was born of a virgin one night in Bethlehem. I'm feeling a lot like this again this year, always that bittersweet knowledge of our utter brokenness and His perfect promise to heal and restore us with His love. I am reminded that each of us has had our own story for the past year. Some one fell in love while someone else still feels lonely. Someone had a brand new baby, while someone else's mother died of Cancer. Someone felt blessed while another felt abandoned. Someone felt quite smug at all they'd accomplished while someone else found themselves homeless. Our stories so different, all in need of this one truth and hope, a manger born King. What would happen if we turned down and unplugged from some of the noise and distraction and made room for space and stillness, if we became a sanctuary for His Spirit?
Watch for the Light is my favorite Advent book and so I'll end with a quote from it and a Juden prayer(one of my best gifts this year).

"The gift of the greatest efficacy and power that we can offer God and creation is not our skills, gifts,abilities, and possessions.
Mary offered only space, love, belief. What is it that delivers Christ into the world-preaching,art,writing,scholarship,social justice? Those are all gifts well worth sharing.
In the end, when all other human gifts have met their inevitable limitation, it is the recollected one,the bold virgin with a heart in love with God who makes a sanctuary of her life, who delivers Christ who then delivers us...
What if instead of doing something, we were to be something special? Be a womb. Be a dwelling for God."
~Loretta Ross-Gotta

"Dear Jesus,
I can't wait for your birthday and for your birthday I want to give the little kids who don't have enough food, something to eat and I'm saving up money to give them Bibles too, so they can know about you. Thank for what you give me and you're the Prince of Peace and I love you to pieces and pieces and pieces and pieces.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

gnome baby

We've been trying to keep things pretty simple this year for Christmas. It is both an economic necessity and a purposeful decision. We are making our kids gifts and I hosted a free-cycle swapping, hand made Christmas shopping kind of party. There are so many talented artists and craftspeople in this community and it is great to support each others' creative endeavors. There was hand made soap, jewelry, beautiful knit works,pottery and photographs for sale. I purged my house of un-needed things and so did many friends, filling up my house with clothes and toys and hand made goodness. My home was turned into a shop for a night, a very fun way to shop, I tell you. I just might have to do it again next year. I got some great free gifts for the kids and traded for this ridiculously adorable gnome hat with a pretty little floral button accent made by Amber. I love it and so does she.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

what's blooming

Everybody needs a garden. Okay maybe not a garden, but something that has the same effect of slowing your heart rate a little, helping you pause a minute and notice. A place an arms throw from messes that need cleaning and to-do lists, a place to sit for a few minutes with a cup of tea, to wander, to finger soft petals, to clear your head a little, to watch birds. I don't suppose I'm the only one that feels a sense of guilt at times for just sitting still for a few moments. Surely there is something I should be doing, and there always is.

"Is it an ocean of grace? Or an ocean of regrets.
Are we what we do? Or how we feel.
Or something different, something in between, something the size and shape of the perfect smooth rock that you close your hand around, just to feel its weight.

I am learning to be silent, to silence the seething within with patience and gentleness....
Gentleness is a great gift. I will ask for it and wield it in my house, with my family, spread it on my table like a cloth, throw it on the walls like a bucket of water, so it runs down and covers all of our mistakes...

And then I will wrap it around the small stone that I have in my hand, like a blanket."~ Rae

You can read it in its entirety here.I think about things in pictures and I love the way she strings together her thoughts. God is teaching me more about how closely connected love and gentleness are. How very humbling at times.

So back to my garden;I have noticed I find myself there just about every afternoon at about three having a cup of tea (my British daddy would smile). Up until last week I was amazed at the color that was hanging on despite the dropping temperatures and autumn winds... marigolds,zinnias and roses. Their deep pinks and oranges shining bright against a wash of tangled dying vines. And then last weekend, December brought our first snow of the year. A fresh white blanket stilled the landscape thrilling the children and taking with it the last of the blooms. But there are things quietly blooming in our hearts in this precious season of advent. I am seeing the tiny seeds planted slowly and over time starting to sprout. Sometimes in thoughtful questions, sometimes in simple little prayers that make make me catch my breath and bring tears.

Like the other night when Juden's prayer was this,

"Dear Jesus,
Thank you for all you give us. We love you. And someday we won't need the sun and the moon anymore because you will be all of our light. I'm sorry that you had to die on the cross for my sins. We know that you love us.
Amen "

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Ila Jade

Here is a sample of the CD I've been working on this past year.
Thoughts Undressed by ilaJade
Thank you to all of those who have already supported this project and bought them for Christmas presents. I am already feeling inspired to start new projects and am thinking of recording a solo worship/hymns album and maybe a children's lullaby CD.
They are available for purchase at Collective Clothing in St. Elmo and at this blog.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


We spent the day at my sisters and it was a lovely day with sunshine, an amazing feast and happy cousins. By the day's end we were sipping tea by the fire and watching living room dance performances. It can be overwhelming really, how much we have to be thankful for. I'm not sure how to reconcile all these good gifts that I don't deserve. I've noticed that I've been posting more frequently the past two months. The reason is two-fold. One, is that in addition to my husband's teaching job, he has been in not one but two bands not including his involvement in my CD. Needless to say he was gone or occupied many a night as of late and I'm not much of a TV watcher, so I read or write instead. Two, is that keeping with the theme of thankfulness has been easy. If I had the time to write every time the inspiration hit, there would be a post everyday at least. With that said, I may just have to let this theme linger a bit until I can catch up. The husband's schedule has lightened some and I tend to choose him over the computer. Speaking of which he has emerged from our attic studio so I'm off.
Whatever circumstances you find yourself in this year I hope you are able to find something of the blessing that is life itself.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fall garland

We like to do crafts and art projects that coincide with the season and usually end up ironing leaves between wax paper but this year we tried dipping them in wax discovered over here. I like the chance to find those last remnants of Autumn color and string them in my windows for the sun to shine through. Extending the vibrancy of a season that seems to be over in a blink. This is an easy project though not the best for really little ones. All you need is a disposable pan, a block of wax and some pretty leaves. I gave the kids long stemmed ones and held them tight while near the hot wax. You set the leaves to dry on some newspaper and then they are ready to string. It's also a great way to learn the different types of leaves. After time of course they still fade but I'll take Autumn hues in my house as long as they last.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November*month of thanks* this

"Do I have eyes audacious enough to see beauty, courage to declare the lovely in days that wail of the ugly, the boldness to fill the hollowed out places with surprising grace?"~ Ann Voskamp