Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Personalized snowflakes!

You can make your own, based on the letters of your name (or whatever you type in) at http://snowflake.thebookofeveryone.com/specials/make-your-snowflake/.

Thanks to Amber for the find!

Sunday, December 21, 2014


Advent means "arrival", but I've always thought it's not Jesus' coming (or coming again) so much as the anticipation, the waiting, the hoping and praying of the process. When I was tiny, I had a glitter-encrusted Advent calendar that we used year after year, every year leaving more tiny sparkly flecks behind until it was only moderately-glittery. Unlike the daily gifts or Elves on the Shelf of so many friends' kids (as evidenced by FB), I remember tiny cardboard doors behind which, in miniscule typeface, was an abbreviation of a scripture reference.

Waiting for Christmas, therefore, was a time of Messianic prophecy1.
December 1, every year, was Isaiah 9:2. The people walking in darkness have seen a great light. On those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.

1 This was reinforced by Pastor Al's longest-running sermon series, the annual Advent foray into Messianic prophecy. He started in Genesis back in the 1970s, with the founding of CPC, and whatever weeks-long, months-long, years-long series he was on in November (Names of God! Ephesians for everyone!), it was suspended until January.

Isaiah didn't know there would be 400 years of silence.
Good thing God's got things covered.

Week Four: Can It Be?
The fourth Sunday of Advent

This summer, my family and I spent a wonderful week vacationing in Massachusetts. Our main destination was Plimouth Plantation, a recreation of the village (near modern-day Plymouth) where the historical first Thanksgiving is said to have taken place, and the Mayflower II, a full-size, seaworthy replica of the original Pilgrim ship, is docked. My six-year-old son studied the Pilgrims in his kindergarten class and heard about this fascinating place. His excitement convinced us this would make a great place to visit. The village consists of a series of weather-worn wooden buildings and fenced-in areas where historical breeds of livestock and heirloom crop varieties grow. Throughout the village, costumed actors go about their daily lives, playing characters from 1627 and assuming the language and customs common to these early European settlers.

We all were fascinated by the details of the colonists’ difficult life: Each family, even a family with 15 children, lived in a single room dwelling of about 800-square-feet, which was seemingly constantly covered in dirt. Two hours were spent every day grinding corn with a wooden mortar and pestle to come up with enough flour to make a loaf of bread. Pilgrim children did not attend school (which my children were interested to learn), because they were working in the fields all day as soon as they physically were able (which my children were strangely less interested to learn).

This new life followed a grueling two-month trip living below deck in a dank, small single room which was semi-sealed to keep out ocean water and, consequently, light and fresh air. During the first winter, more than half of the 102 settlers died due to weakened immune systems. Over and over, I was struck with the difficulty of life in the new land, and left with a question: “Who does something like this?!?”

My answer came from one of the actors, an older colonist who invited us all into the Meeting House—a nondescript wooden structure which was used primarily for worship services. Once assembled, he began by teaching us, by rote, to sing: “Guide me, O though great Jehovah!” After our first attempt, he stopped us abruptly, yelling: “the Lord says we are to make a joyful noise! Not a ‘polite noise’ and not a ‘pretty noise.’ We make a ‘joyful noise’ because we are a people of joy, and we are a people of joy because we are a people of faith. The joy in our faith is what brought us here, and it is what sustains us through these trials.”

My mental picture of these people, who had undergone such difficulty in their new lives, was missing one vital part of their reality: joy. I had not considered they could experience so much real, life-affirming joy. At that moment, I understood that, as fellow-followers of Jesus, they too knew God’s faithfulness and love. They were able to go in faith, knowing that while they were in the darkness, the light of Jesus was coming. They knew, as Jesus taught us, greatness lies on the other side of suffering. It is my prayer that, in this Advent season, we may all know the joy of God’s love in our lives. In the words of the psalmist: Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord; for he is coming!

— Timothy Dixon, DMA
professor of music

Psalm 96; Isaiah 52:7-10; Luke 1:57-80

source: Messiah College Advent devotional book 2014

TL;DR: “The Lord says we are to make a joyful noise! Not a ‘polite noise’ and not a ‘pretty noise.’ We make a ‘joyful noise’ because we are a people of joy, and we are a people of joy because we are a people of faith. The joy in our faith is what brought us here, and it is what sustains us through these trials.”

Friday, December 19, 2014

To kids, love is spelled t-i-m-e

Ikea has done it again.  What would you ask of your parents for Christmas, compared to your letter to Santa?

There's also a second clip in the link, also very good, about materialistic Christmas.

(Warning... bring Kleenex.  It's awfully dusty in here...)

Well, we said it would be a hospitality house.

So all week UPS has been delivering packages, multiple packages, to Credo from QVC. Thing is, neither Big Frog nor I have ordered things from QVC, possibly ever.

But Credo's former owners have. Often, evidently.

And we've been getting packages addressed to their current address, with stickers pasted over and around the ostensibly correct "ship to" addresses which redirect the packages our way.

But unlike the United States Postal Service, United Parcel Service won't let you just marker "please forward" onto the item and throw it back into the mailbox. Instead, I went online to figure out what to do, and the "chat now" person had me take photos of the packages, which she passed along to the local office, which sent a brown truck back our way to retrieve and redeliver. The drivers have been very gracious about it, but they seem as mystified as I about who would keep correcting a "ship to" midway through the process.

I am a night owl. This is not news to anyone who has ever met me.

And although we have our outdoor and tree lights set to "dusk + #h", they're on sometimes dusk to dawn, sometimes longer. It depends on how light hits the sensors. Or maybe we have a bad optic. We're not sure, and this is the first year we've relied on them instead of just using them as switches.

So I was awake and reading, and the lights were still illuminated and blinking merrily away in the darkness at 1am when a knock sounded at the door.

Even though I always say, "It's never too late to call, although it may be too early," few people call after 10p. And really no one calls after 11p, even if you tell them to. So a 1am knock was really unexpected. Haven't had one of those since college days, when everyone was on a semi-nocturnal schedule.

I open the door and I'm greeted by a complete stranger, an African-American woman whose face immediately falls and she says, "Oh, [former owner] moved." She starts backpedaling into an apologetic, "I knew they had their house on the market, I just forgot, I'm so sorry," and I learn that the previous owner's mother has passed on unexpectedly. This night visitor just an hour ago learned about the passing and hopped in her car to support her friend. Who no longer lives at my house.

But wait!

Longtime readers may recall how God providentially let us meet the previous owner and her mother the very day I moved to NC. In a show of completion, when I arrived in NC, I met Big Frog at the house rather than at the hotel where he was then living. Not 15 minutes later did the previous owner show up to do some last minute tidying before turning the keys over. So instead of prowling around the perimeter with cat-like tread and bobbing flashlights, we went into the house and took photos of us in our new kitchen. We exchanged cell numbers and invited the former owners to EOPS.

So, 1am notwithstanding, I was able to give the friend all the reasonably-current contact information I had for their friend.

Ain't God good?

Hebrews 13:2 Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Outdoor lights, addendum

Our outside Christmas lights are on a timer, dusk + 6h.  Our porch lights are manual.  Late last night, when we turned the porch lights off, the Christmas lights, which had already gone off, thought it was dusk and started merrily blinking again.  Sorry, neighbors.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Outdoor lights!

Outdoor lights!  Not many, and just on the front porch, but significant because this is the first time in my entire life I've been part of a household that put up outdoor lights.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Indoor frisbees

The pattern by Priscilla Hewitt calls them "scalloped potholders", but they fly well and are soft enough for indoor use, and are foldable to fit into a pocket to just have around.  Plus, you can throw them in the wash when they get dirty.

One of redditgifts international exchanges actually got this going; one of my giftee's interests is disc golf, & he was very specific on "I don't want something you just clicked to have sent to me.  Give me something with your fingerprints on it."  Done!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world.
John 1:29 (also Handel's Messiah, Part II, 1st chorale)

Lest our honorable desire to live lives that embody Christ overreach into some messianic identity that says we are Christ to the world, it may be better for us to ask, “WWJBD? What would John the Baptist do?” To do as John the Baptist did is to call attention to Jesus Christ and then to say to all who are within hearing distance, “Hey, look! See! God is alive. God is in our midst. The Holy Spirit is at work in us and through and for us and even in spite of us! Behold! The Lamb of God!”

~Every Valley: Advent with the Scriptures of Handel’s Messiah
Compiled by Jessica Miller Kelley

Culturally, we may sing Messiah most at Christmastime, but it really is three parts: 1) Jesus' birth, 2) Jesus' death &resurrection, & 3) Jesus' triumphant return. We live in the inbetween-times.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

See wonder

Sometimes the most remarkable things seem commonplace. I mean, when you think about it, jet travel is pretty freaking remarkable. You get in a plane, it defies the gravity of an entire planet by exploiting a loophole with air pressure, and it flies across distances that would take months or years to cross by any means of travel that has been significant for more than a century or three. You hurtle above the earth at enough speed to kill you instantly should you bump into something, and you can only breathe because someone built you a really good tin can that has seams tight enough to hold in a decent amount of air. Hundreds of millions of man-hours of work and struggle and research, blood, sweat, tears, and lives have gone into the history of air travel, and it has totally revolutionized the face of our planet and societies.

But get on any flight in the country, and I absolutely promise you that you will find someone who, in the face of all that incredible achievement, will be willing to complain about the drinks.

The drinks, people.

~Harry Dresden
Summer Knight, by Jim Butcher, ch 30

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas?

Cultural differences:
At tonight's Christmas tree lighting, here in NC, there were burn barrels and hot cocoa to keep people warm.
It's 50F. 
I only wore my coat because it gave me pockets, which my choir dress lacks.

Also, in addition to The Kerner Chorale and a local HS madrigal group singing carols, another high school sent their drum corps and cheerleaders.  Never heard a drumline play Silent Night before.  But I guess you can only reorchestrate pah-rum-pum-pum-pum so many times before it gets old.

Merry Christmas!

photo credit: Rheanell Baker

Also, a few snaps from our Messiah rehearsals and performances.
Note to self: don't rent harpsichords. And certainly don't transport rented harpsichords in a pickup truck in the rain.

photo credit: joyverflow

Remember, sing British, not southern!

Like duct tape and WD-40

You've heard that there are only two tools needed.

source: Blame it on the voices

Here's an addendum:
Would the epoxy help? 
Hugs help. 
I can't think of any situations where hugs would help that epoxy would make things better. 
Well, I can't think of any situations where epoxy would help that hugs would make things better. 
Is this a situation for hugs or epoxy?


<having seen a hawk of some kind swoop across our lawn>

Big bird.
But not the Big Bird.
Probably eating <simultaneously> voles/squirrels.
If he's eating squirrels,  he's my friend.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Why "or" when you could "and"?

Tap Dance or BeatBox? An Epic Battle | Christopher Erk | TEDxPeachtree

I only wish they did more full-body shots and less head shots.