Thursday, December 29, 2005

Christmas on the Beach

My mom had never seen the Atlantic before so we packed up on Tuesday and headed for the beach. It was relatively warm (61 degrees) but obviously too cold get a tan for New Year' s Eve. The weather didn't stop the kiddos from getting wet!

On Wednesday morning we got up early to watch the sunrise...having grown up near the west coast where the sun sets on the ocean it was fun to see the sun rise on the ocean.

As I was sitting on the 5th floor balcony of our hotel room, watching the sun rise and drinking coffee a bunch of dolphins came to catch some breakfast. They were incredibly close to the shore! It was amazing!

La Vida Dulce!

Saturday, December 24, 2005


Many merry Christmases, friendships, great accumulation of cheerful recollections, affection on earth, and Heaven at last for all of us.

~Charles Dickens

Our Christmas Story - Part 3

We've taken a trip to the past and future...but what about today?

Let's start with a story...I found this story but it did not give the name of the author. Please note I did not write this story!

Christmas in Prison

During the time when trouble with the Communists was first beginning to be a problem in China, two missionaries were returning from a preaching trip when they were captured. It was Christmas Eve and they had been hurrying, hoping to spend Christmas Day with their families. The captors stripped them of all their belongings, including their Bibles, and put them in a small room together, forbidding them to speak to each other. The men did not know whether they would be allowed to live through the night, whether or not the captors would kill them, and they worried for their families who did not know where they were. The night passed and early on Christmas morning, one of the men had an idea. While the guard was looking the other way, he pulled bits of straw out of his mattress and spelled out the word "Emmanuel." His friend looked at the letters and his face lit up. Emmanuel - God with us. God was with them even in prison. This communication lifted the men's spirits and they were able to wait out the remainder of their imprisonment in peace and joy. After the men were released and reunited with their families, this Christmas became their most memorable. They had learned that the importance of Christmas is not that we are with our families - although that is wonderful - but it is that God is with us - God sent His Son to earth to be with us.

This story encourages me! Christmas carries so much emotion and sometimes those emotions, (although very real when we're feeling them!) can side track us from the truth of Emmanuel - God with us.

Like Christmas 6 years ago. Being 8 months pregnant we couldn't travel to Arizona but I wasn't sad about it because we were celebrating our first Christmas in our new house (and first home) and I knew that my parents would be coming to see me when the baby came. The Boy was a cute as could be. I was carrying new life! Life was good! The emotions I felt were joy, love, and cheer! We can add those to our list from Part 1.

But sometimes those emotions aren't always happy.

Like the year when I was 18. We had had a family crisis that brought 17 years of Christmas celebration with extended family to a screaming halt. That year my parents, brothers and I celebrated Christmas alone. At the time, I felt responsible for all the ugliness that resulted in this separation. And although I felt grateful that I wasn't completely alone that Christmas the emotions I felt that year were fear, rejection, loneliness, and grief. And I assume that my family had similar feelings. That year the emotions would not allow me to see past my circumstances.

How I wish I knew then what I know now. I wish the 33 year old Kellie could go back to that 18 year old and say: "Emmanuel! Kellie. God is with you! God is with your family! You have a future!"

Do you know someone who needs to hear that this season?

Perhaps it is you?

Maybe your circumstances are awesome this year. For instance things are going well for my little family this year. We anticipate my parents’ arrival this weekend and things at the moment are going very well (and I can't resist saying I have a new baby nephew who is just perfect!)
However, I know that I could have remembered "Emmanuel-God with me." When I was trying to find a parking spot among those crazy Christmas drivers!

Perhaps we might remember "Emmanuel- God with us." when we travel long distances with small children and the family pet. Maybe it's when we are relating with family members who are a little more difficult.

I don't know where you are "emotionally" this year...some may be filled with joy and excitement and some maybe struggling...but we can be comforted when we remember:

Emmanuel. God is with us.

He was there in our past.

He will be there in our future.

He is with us now.

Two days ago I gave a definition for a baby. Here is a revised definition:

The Baby King

He was born in a stable, the smallest member of the barn. He was born there at the perfect time, to make love stronger, the home assured, the past forgiven and the future worth living for.

He is Emmanuel. - which means "God with us."
Matthew 1:23

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Our Christmas Story - Part 2

Christmas Future – Our Home

I love it that through scripture we can take a trip to the past, to gather hope for the future!

Yesterday our definition for a baby was that “he makes the past forgotten and the future worth living for”. Today we will see that the message of Emmanuel, Jesus, the baby King, is that “He makes our past FORGIVEN, and the future worth living for.”

The infant Christ gives us a future worth living for because when we make a choice to believe that he is the Son of God, who was sent to free us from sin, then we will get the privilege to someday celebrate His birth in heaven, God’s home, sitting at His table, sharing Christmas with Him face to face!

Home…another word we can add to our list of words that describe what Christmas means to us.

You’ve heard the words, “I’ll be home for Christmas…If only in my dreams”. As my little family has literally moved across the country in the last 10 years I have had to re-think and re-adjust my concept of “home”. When someone asks me where I am from I sometimes struggle. I am an Arizonian by birth, I love Texas, I am raising two little natural born Texans, and I have a growing love of the Southeast. Home to me is where my family is…but even that is hard as my family is scattered! Home is a soft place to land. For me that’s being in the presence of those whom I love. What if my parents no longer lived in Arizona? Would Arizona still be home?

I have come to realize that home is a place of heart. Here is what helps me when I struggle with the concept of Home:

“But our citizenship is in heaven.” Philippians 3:20

God’s Word says that for those who choose to believe in Christ our citizenship is in heaven. Arizona is where I was born, but it is not my home. When our family moves on from our little corner in the southeast my heart will break. I will grieve as I did 9 years ago when my parents dropped us off at the airport bound for Texas. I will feel “homesick” as I still feel now for Texas. But this baby called Emmanuel gives me, and you, a future worth living for! And it’s bigger than Arizona…and if you can believe it…it’s bigger than Texas! (Do I hear an Amen?!)

The future worth living for is eternity in God’s home.

We can anticipate a grand Christmas with Christ because right before he was about to be arrested, beaten and crucified he speaks to his disciples and says:

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.  In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going.”
John 14:2-4

Christ is saying, “Trust me!” There is a future for you!” Our future promise: Emmanuel- God with us!

When we choose to believe that that sweet baby King is who He says He is we become royalty in Him. He gives us a future worth living for in heaven, where we will celebrate His birth and life and sacrifice with Him!

It is OK to anticipate and look forward to it! As a matter of fact is meant to give us great encouragement. We can learn from Abraham, known for his great faith in the Lord. He was asked by God to leave the land of his father. He packed up his family, left the only home he ever knew and lived life believing God was who He said He was. And in the book of Hebrews we are reminded that Abraham anticipated the day when he and his family would all finally live in their true “home”.

… for he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. - Hebrews 11:10

The idea of anticipating the future reminds me of the first 5K I ran. My friend Jenifer and I were very excited. The weather was perfect, the adrenaline was pumping and all was going very well. Around the first mile we finally had an even pace and we felt good. All of a sudden a boy around the age of 15 realized his shoelace were loose, so instead of running to the side of the road, he squats down right in front of me to tie his laces. I had to do some split second thinking and hurdled this youngster! Then at about the second mile I realized that buying new running shoes three days before the race was probably not the best choice I had ever made. They were starting to rub blisters on the bottoms of my feet. But we ran on. Having a third of the last mile left I was beginning to get really tired. About this time Jenifer started to really pick up her pace. I, not wanting to be dusted, picked up to keep up! I say, “Goodness Jen, you really saved your energy for this last bit didn’t you?” To which she replied, “No. Actually, I am getting pretty tired. But I know that finish line is just around this next corner.”

This little 5K race packed big lessons for me. Jen kept the end goal in mind. She let it encourage her, motivate her, and helped her to finish strong. Isn’t life just like a marathon? Everything is great and things are going just as we had planned; then suddenly we have to navigate over unexpected hurdles. Sometimes we make choices that cause “blisters” in life, things that may cause a little (or a lot!) of pain, and we have to live with the consequences of those decisions. Sometimes we just get tired, and we want to quit. But this is when we must remember our future! Run with the future in mind!

We can run the race knowing that because of Christ we have an assured future.
We have a place to call home!

Christmas Future – An eternal home where we will live the
face-to-face reality of:
Emmanuel. God with us.
Tomorrow: Christmas Present!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

How The Christmas Story ...

...Becomes Our Christmas Story - Part 1
If we were asked to give one-word descriptions on what Christmas means to us, the thoughts or themes that come to mind might look like this:

Peace, Family, Hope, Love, and Traditions

Just to name a few.

I also have a few one-word descriptions that pop into my head as we approach this exciting time of year. I will be adding them to our list as we go along.

As I sat down to pray and study for this devotional I began to have a Charles Dickens sort of theme begin to run in my head. I began to reminisce about the joys, and sometimes heartache, of Christmas’ past. As I studied I began to get excited about Christmas Future. Yet I am also aware that this is December 2005, it is important to be grounded and truly living in the present.

One of my very first thoughts (that I will add to our list) when I think about Christmas is: Baby. This has always been a focus for me because I have had a great love for babies for as long as I can remember! Growing up we had a very small manger scene that I used to play with. It had glass figurines of Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. My favorite piece of that manger scene was always the baby Jesus. There is just something incredibly hopeful, sweet and new about a baby.

I found this definition about babies:

A baby is a small member of the home that makes love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, the bankroll smaller, the home happier, the clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for.

If you are a parent you know this is true! Mary and Joseph could probably shake their head in agreement with this statement and yet they knew that this baby King, named Jesus, was a promise fulfilled by God.

Which bring us to:

Christmas Past - Emmanuel God with Us

I love the book of Isaiah. I often find myself there in times when I need encouragement. Perhaps this is because Isaiah was known as the prophet of redemption. He spoke of Christ’s birth long before He was born. God used Isaiah to foretell the future of what was to come. In Chapter 7 we see Isaiah encouraging Ahaz, the King of Judah, whose enemies are plotting to over throw him. God has told Isaiah that this plot will not be carried out but Ahaz must stand firm. The Lord says to Ahaz in verse 10 of the Seventh Chapter:

Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz,  “Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.”

Here we see that God is saying: Ahaz! from the depths to heights I am with you!

Ahaz refuses to ask. But God in his perfect plan and mercy gives him a sign anyway. Through Isaiah these words are spoken:

“ Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” –Isaiah 7:14

This is the fun part…Now we get to flip to the bible to Matthew 1 and take a peek at how the future for Ahaz and the house of King David is to perfectly unfold.

18 this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus,
 because he will save his people from their sins.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel”
—which means, “God with us.”

Emmanuel. God with us.

God’s Word is trustworthy. We can believe Him. When we see things that were predicted in Scripture past, it is always fulfilled in the future. I love the richness of the words of God that we have just read. It reminds me that long before Christ came as a tiny babe we can see God had a plan. It was not hidden from Ahaz and his people- nor is it hidden from us. God’s plan of salvation was born in a stable. So that plain, unroyal people like you and me could approach him and receive the gift that came in swaddling clothes.
This baby King, the Son of God, grew to be a man who would offer us the greatest gift…Himself. He would willingly die to save us from our sin, and rise from the dead to give us a future; to prepare a home for those who believed that his gift was real.
So that we might always know Emmanuel – God with us!
Tomorrow: Christmas Future!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

School Teachers Aren't Paid Nearly Enough

I feel a little frazzled.

I have just returned from the Holiday Parties at the kids school.

I am now drinking Diet Coke in an attempt to calm my nerves. (You know it's an addiction when you drink it to feel "normal")

There is nothing like volunteering on one of the most crazy days of the year. The kids are already wild with excitement. Then a bunch of the "fun" parents think it's really cool to load them up with sugar and then see how many of them can explode from all the sugar generated energy. (today the sugar was served in all forms-- from candy to Mountain Dew! What were they thinking?) All while the teachers have these looks on their faces that are somewhere between cheer and pure exhaustion.

This afternoon I will peel The Boy down from the ceiling and look forward to the next few days of hanging out together before all the holiday excitement begins. Tomorrow we will bake!

On a side note, a couple weeks ago I was asked to speak for the Woman's Annual Christmas Party at our church. I put together a little devotional about Christmas. I thought I would post it in three parts, over three days(starting tomorrow) here in the blog. I hope you enjoy it. I feel much better...writing a little bit and drinking Diet much cheaper than therapy.

Monday, December 19, 2005

You Know Your Old When....

...your son comes home from school a little disappointed with a toy that he received from the class "goodie box". It's a key chain with a small Rubik's Cube attached to it.

Actually, the "goodie" pick on Friday is a "blind" grab of sorts. It's part of the good behavior reward system. You manage to stay out of trouble all week and then you get to pick out of the goodie box, only there is a catch: you can't see what you pick. And what you pick is what you get.

This week he picked out a pink bracelet, and a girl in his class picked the key chain. They traded to save themselves the embarrassment of unfortunate picking.

The Boy was still not thrilled.

After school, when he gets in the car, he says with little energy "look what I got from the goodie box."

I say, with excitement "AH! A Rubik's Cube!!! Cool!"

And he looks at me with a look that is a cross between disbelief and wondering if he has all my DNA.

I say, "Those were very popular when I was a kid."

To which he answers, "What is it?"

"It's like a puzzle"

Then after he twists and turns it for awhile he says "Does it come apart?" (this is where I realize that, yes, the DNA is all there)

What I Say: "Yes, but that's kind of like cheating."
What I think: (Actually it's kind of hard to take them's much easier to take the stickers off and place them back in order.)

"So this was a game you played when you were a kid?"

"Yup. Everyone had a Rubik's Cube." I even had a Chuck E Cheese one.

"Wow. "


"Was this in the old days when all those TV shows were black and white?"


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

High Noon on Wednesday

It is 12:07 and it is 28 degrees outside.

Need I say more?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Tamale Time: A day in pictures

7am: After cooking the meat in the crock all night I stumbled down the stairs to chop it up and give it some flavor. Notice that I do not yet have that First Morning Coffee look yet...

8am: G. grabs an apron and learns the finer points of masa making.

Next year she is going to make them and I am going to stay in bed.

Do not miss the irony in this photo...although you cannot see the rest of this breakfast table, I am the ONLY one sitting at it making tamales. The hubby was upstairs resting from his eventful Friday (for another blog), the kids were outside (except when Austin stopped in to take this pic). Why is this ironic? Because I spent many years dissapearing during the rolling of the tamales. But at least I was on the phone.

And 2pm: The finished product!

La Vida Dulce!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Trials of a Pet Owner or If you are a Dog Lover...Look the Other Way

When I started this blog I had no idea that I would spend so much time writing about the family pet.

Kona, our (once) beloved dog, is about to find herself "lost" (if you know what I mean).

Now, before all those animal activist that I call friends get their britches in a wad, Kona is alive and well....and whining at the door to the office as I type. But my feelings for this dog are starting to wane.

What would the doggie experts say?: She runs away because she wants friends. She rolls in poop because it is fun. She brings in pinecones and leaves the crumpled remains all over the living room because she needs something to chew on. She sneaks food off of people's plates because she was never sent to obedience school. And she runs all over you because you let her walk in the door ahead of you too many times and now she thinks she is the Alpha dog. What she needs is firm training, gentle love and a good rawhide bone. By the way, this is all your fault.

What do I say: She needs some swift action with an electric collar.

Last night she ran away again. She was gone for several hours and then came home, by way of the neighbor who brought her home on a leash. She was covered in poop. She spent the night kenneled up...looking very sad and smelling like...well, you know.

At 9:30 this morning in 33 degree weather (by the way, that is VERY cold) I took that little pooch outside and she had a bath. Of course everything outside has already been winterized so I had to uncover the water spout, find a hose in the garage, and find the spray nozzle. My hands were purple, my teeth were chattering and now my house smells like wet dog.

Quite frankly, pet ownership is a pain in the rear.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

A Mother's Pride

In motherhood there are sometimes opportunities to make you feel like you are doing a good job being a mother.

If your a mother you know what I mean.

You spend minutes, days, weeks and years teaching them so they will be wise and knowledgeable. And that moment comes quickly and unexpectedly.

It's that moment when your kids does or says the right thing... and you, for a brief shining moment, can act like it was all because of your fine parenting skills.

It's a moment that the angels sing and you have to wipe a tear of happiness from the eye...

This moment happened just this morning on our way to school.

The Boy was trying to tell me about a gift he might buy his teacher. He couldn't think of quite the right word so he asked "What is a high heel?"

The Girl, with great excitement in her eyes says "It's a shoe!!!".

The Boy says " No, that's not what I was thinking of."

The Girl says "Was it a pump? A sandal?"


"Was it a clog? An open toe?"


"A boot? A mule? Mary Jane's?"

"Cut it out! It isn't a shoe! I am not thinking about shoes, OK?"

The Girl's reply:

"Well I am ."

That's my girl.