Friday, December 31, 2010

GHF

It’s the last Grateful Heart Friday of 2010!! The last few weeks have been amazing with family and friends celebrating the birth of Jesus. I’m taking a moment to look back and thank God for all of His blessings.

I’m thankful for all of our family that came down to spend Christmas with us. I’m grateful for a night filled with laughter, Chevy Chase, and lots of snacks. I’m thankful for Uncle Kenny and all the magic he adds to Christmas. I’m grateful for the wonder of a child and their surprise on Christmas morning. I’m thankful for a wonderful Christmas dinner with family and friends, prime rib and paper crowns. I’m sad that my husband had to go back to work, but grateful that the kids didn’t have to go back to school and could spend a week in their jammies (me too!)! I’m thankful for a restful night on my neighbor’s couch, watching their sleeping child as they went out to a movie! I’m grateful for little friends to play with my littles. I’m thankful for January 5th and what changes that has brought to my life. I’m thankful for God’s faithfulness in this past year (more to come on this). I’m grateful for the promise of the New Year. Most of all I’m thankful for the birth of Jesus and how my life has been radically changed because of the love, forgiveness and restoration He gives.
Now it’s your turn – take a few moments to reflect on all the blessings from this past week and cultivate your grateful heart!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Embrace Winter's Beach

Back to The Embrace!  I had a lovely day at the beach with my children on Tuesday.  I was told that heavy rain was coming on Wednesday, followed by some bitter cold,
so we headed to the beach on the last promised nice day. 
As I mentioned in this post, it was a great day for building and reflecting!
Building sculptures from all the stuff the past storms have washed up



I love this photo because Georgia came up to me and said,
 "take a picture of us together Mommy!"

No outting would be complete without a pic nic in the back of the Expi. 
Don't mind that it would have been spectacular on a blanket on the sand!



A great time was had by all!



Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Now What?

I can remember it like it was yesterday. It was almost 4 weeks exactly after they were  born that we got to bring the girls home from the hospital. The nurses didn’t want to let them go and cuddled them all the way out to our car. They had their precious white outfits on from Auntie Sheena (preemie size that were way too big!), handmade pink hats from Auntie Ashley, and ruffley white blankets handmade by Grammie – they were my tiny dolls! We loaded them into their giant car seats and drove 10 mph the whole way home! I remember bringing the car seats into our home, setting them down, and thinking “now what?” What do you do with two tiny newborn babies? Yesterday as I drove my children to the beach (don’t worry, it’s pouring rain today, so don’t be envious non-California friends!) I was thinking that it was 3 days after Christmas; 3 days after Jesus was born. Was Mary thinking, “now what?” I’ve got this new baby, no home to live in, a new husband, strangers all around me wanting to give my baby gifts, how long will this go on? When a new baby (or babies) enters our life, we are forced to grapple with a few questions, one being, “now what?” What should I do with this baby? What is my role? What changes are going to occur in my life as a result? What does this look like on a daily basis? When Jesus was born, I’m sure some of those questions ran through Mary’s mind. But, when Jesus was born, we all were forced to answer the question, “now what?” What am I going to do with this baby? What changes will occur in my life because of Him? It’s up to us. We choose to be impacted by the birth of Jesus or not. He does not force His love on us. He offers and lets us choose. So, what’s your response? Now what

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Embrace Cookies

It's the last Thursday before Christmas and time for one last embrace with my little ladies. I've had a lot of fun baking with the little elves this year and can't wait for more today before all our guests arrive!! Merry Christmas everyone - I'll be off-line until December 29th. (And I'm really looking forward to January, especially January 5th - wait and see!)
Merry Christmas

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Nothing Is Impossible With God

After Jesus’ birthday party on the 15th, I’ve been determined to get my heart focused on Christ before Christmas is over. My husband gets up for work really early – I mean crazy early! I’m a light sleeper and although I try to pretend that I can fall back asleep, I too am up at a crazy hour. However, our down comforter seems to become some sort of vice that captivates me in bed until all the children come in to join me! This final week before Christmas I decided that I didn’t want to wake up Christmas morning with regrets, so I committed to get up when my husband does and sit in the kitchen and read Jesus’ birth narrative from Luke. Yesterday, something jumped off the page as though I was reading it for the first time. When the angel told Mary that she is going to have a baby, not only was she scared, but confused, “How will this be since I am a virgin?” The angel explained that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and the Most High would overshadow her (yea, that explains it!). And what happened next is what I hadn’t noticed before – the angel starts talking about her relative Elizabeth and her pregnancy. I think that as the angel was explaining the Holy Spirit thing, there must have been a deeply perplexed look on Mary’s face, so the angel thought, “I’d better switch gears and go with something more familiar. ‘Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.’” Mary’s immediate response: “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” I love how the story of God’s power and faithfulness in another’s life was deeply encouraging and moving to Mary so that she willingly accepted the role presented to her as the Mother of God! Last night I had coffee with a dear friend who shared with me several stories of how God is richly blessing her right now. I must say, I have been in a season of deep refinement, but hearing her stories of blessing was deeply encouraging and moving to me so that I came home and willingly said, “Lord, do what you must to make me who you want me to be. I know your blessing is just around the corner.” We are not alone in this walk of faith. All of our stories are meant to encourage one another and spur one another on towards love and good deeds.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Sound of Music

Christmas traditions are very special in the Jones family. I have so many fond memories of Christmas from my childhood. It truly was the time to feel the comfort of familiar decorations, family recipes, and much anticipated traditions. On Christmas Eve, it was unspoken, yet understood that no one leave the house. Shopping must be completed, and gift giving visits finished as we settled in as a family for the grandest tradition – The Sound of Music. I’m not really sure what year it started, I only know that I’ve seen it so many times, I know all the songs and most all of the lines (so does my family). My mom would make all sorts of wonderful hors d’oeuvres and we’d sit in the family room eagerly awaiting that tiny spec on top of the Alps to become Maria spinning around, beginning to sing, “the hills are alive…” It was the moment that huge smiles came over our faces, hearts began pounding, and the reality of the moment sank in – it was Christmas! Sounds silly, but that same huge smile is on my face right now as I recall those afternoons on the 24th. Every year it was exactly the same, and every year without fail Fraulein Maria reminded us that when God closes a door, He opens a window; that when things get tough, take a moment to remember your favorite things; that you can’t marry someone when you’re in love with someone else!; to climb every mountain until you find your dreams, and that family is a powerful bond that gives strength, courage, and endurance. Perhaps that’s why The Sound of Music was a highly favored Christmas tradition in the Jones family – it bonded us in many ways. It was the movie that we all sat through together year after year, it was the movie that provided many inside jokes for us, it was the movie that caused us to bust out in song and dance at any given moment! Over the past several years, that tradition has been put on hold as we’ve grown up and started families of our own. But as a special Christmas gift to my family this year, we surprised them and took them to The Sound of Music sing-a-long at The Hollywood Bowl. After a picnic, we watched the famous movie under the stars with 18,000 of our fellow fans and sang every note! We laughed, we cried, but best of all, we were together as a family. What bonds your family together at the holidays? Share a favorite holiday tradition with us!
video
Now it’s your turn!
1. have fun reminiscing about a great holiday tradition from your family or a fabulous holiday must have
2. blog about it (if you don’t have a blog, put your thoughts in a comment below)
3. link up your Holiday Must Haves & Traditions below
4. enjoy visiting the blogs posted below and reading the comments below to get some great ideas to make this holiday season extra special


Friday, December 17, 2010

GHF

It’s Grateful Heart Friday over here! I’m just taking a moment to look back on this amazing week
and be grateful for all of it.
First off, I’m grateful for the rain and the winter weather that returned! Yippee! I’m thankful for a super fun surprise trip to Disneyland that we pulled off rather well. I’m thankful for Bethlehem and the amazing trip we had to visit the birthplace of Jesus (who knew that Bethlehem was only 5 minutes from our house?) I’m grateful for “Christmas Encouragers” that have appeared on my coffee table nightly (hubby loves to start the gift giving early!). I’m thankful for hard belly laughs while watching Four Christmases with my husband. I’m grateful for generous neighbors. I’m grateful for A Barrel of Monkeys – what a great game for kids! I’m thankful that mom and dad made it to NYC for a little white Christmas fun (at least someone’s living my dream!). I’m thankful for all the lovely baked goods in our kitchen right now. I’m grateful for my dear friend Sheena and her birthday yesterday. I’m thankful that we still have 9 days until Christmas – I never want it to end!! Most of all I’m grateful for Jesus. It must have been really hard to leave perfection and be born in a barn so that God could show us all how much He loves us.
Now it’s your turn – take a few moments to reflect on all the blessings from this past week and cultivate your grateful heart!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Embrace Duets

Emily turned me on to Embrace the Camera on Thursdays where we moms get ourselves in a photo with our kids. It's so true that we take most of the pictures and aren't in any of them! She said that one day our kids will really appreciate these photos of their moms! Well, this couldn't be more true as my father just sent me this photo of me and my mom and I'm more than thankful to have it.I grew up singing in church, mostly with my mom. We used to sing a duet every Christmas Eve and I have so many fond memories of sharing a mic with my mom! I had no idea that we actually had a picture of us singing together until my dad sent me this!

Last weekend I was asked to sing at a Christmas Tea and whereas music used to be a very big part of my life, it has taken a back seat for the past 9 years, so I was very nervous. My mom just happened to be in town and joined me at the tea to hear me sing. If only we had more time to rehearse, I would have had her join me on stage! (Notice how in both photos I'm wearing a bow on my left hip. Somethings never change!)


*Link up next Monday with your Holiday Must Haves & Traditions.
It's the last time before Christmas!!

Happy Birthday Jesus

Today my little ladies had their Christmas party at school. They go to a private Christian school and so the party was a Birthday Party for Jesus. We sang Happy Birthday, blew out candles and had pizza and cake! I know that Christmas is all about Jesus’ birth. I know that we always talk about not getting distracted with shopping, presents and Santa and miss the true meaning. I know all this. But I have to confess, I usually settle in and focus on Jesus when I’m sitting in church on Christmas Eve; the shopping is finished, the baking is over, the wrapping is taped up, and there is nothing left to do but enjoy the next 24 hours. Ahhh, then I can sing the carols with conviction, “Joy to the world, the Lord has come,” “Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright,” “Oh come all ye faithful, come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.” Then my heart is calm and clear so that I can truly sing those songs with Jesus on my mind. How sad that I wait until the last 24 hours to honestly settle in on Jesus’ birth. Yea, we read Bible stories all month to our kids about Jesus being born. Of course we have the nativity set up in the house to see everyday. We talk about the true meaning of Christmas with our children all the time. But my heart is not there. Having a Birthday Party for Jesus on the 15th of December set me straight. I’m not going to wait until I’m sitting in church on the 24th to have it sink in. I’m making a conscience decision right now to get my heart there. To get on my knees in the manger and worship that baby that has changed my life forever. I still have lots of baking and wrapping to do, but that doesn’t mean I can’t sing carols with conviction while I do it! It is all preparation for the Birthday Party for the King of Kings. It will mean nothing if it isn’t given from a heart that deeply knows and loves the birthday boy.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Little Drummer Boy

This morning I struggled and scrambled to finish up my blog post. I shooed away my little 22 month old repeatedly who wanted to sit by mommy and touch the keyboard. The little ladies were arguing and Daddy bear, home sick, was taking a quick shower. He had encouraged me to go to the beach first thing in the morning to spend time with God, but I had my own agenda. My day was going to be filled with errands and shopping after I finished my blog. In the end, my blog post didn’t get finished, I didn’t get to the beach, and I was reminded once again the reason why I titled my blog “Not My Own.” My life isn’t my own. It first belongs to Christ – my husband tried to remind me of this, but I didn’t listen. It also belongs to my family – my son tried to remind me of this, but I didn’t listen. I just tried to accomplish what I wanted, working in the mindset that the day belonged to me. I’m sure if I had driven to the beach when I woke up and spent the morning with the Lord, I would have accomplished much more in this day!
Last week my daughters sang in their Christmas program at school. They sang “The Little Drummer Boy,” and beat their drums! These words remind me that all God really wants is for us to come to Him and give Him all that we are. He doesn’t ask for a great blog post. He doesn’t need the finest gifts, He just wants me. My children are the same – they won’t care at the end of their lives that I accomplished much in my days. They will only care about the time I spent with them – no lavish toys or special activities, just simple time with mommy. I missed the mark today, trying to accomplish much with my own agenda. And all God and my children were asking of me was, “come.” And when I do, they smile at me.

Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum
A new born King to see, pa rum pum pum pum
Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum
To lay before the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

So to honor Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
When we come.

Little Baby, pa rum pum pum pum
I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum
I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum
That's fit to give the King, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Shall I play for you, pa rum pum pum pum,
On my drum?

Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum
The ox and lamb kept time, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum
I played my best for Him, pa rum pum pum pum,
rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum
Me and my drum.

Friday, December 10, 2010

GHF

It’s Grateful Heart Friday!! I’m really loving Fridays and the chance to stop and reflect on the blessings of the past week! Here we go:
I'm thankful for a husband who dislocated a rib while hanging up the Christmas lights on our house!! I’m grateful for snow in Southern California!! (and our church that bought it to cover the front hill to play on!!) I’m thankful for great friends that make my life so rich. I’m grateful for a beautiful Christmas tree that only took 2 minutes to pick out – went with the first one we saw! And I’m thankful for my dear friend Cheenie who came and cut off half the branches to make it the prettiest tree we’ve ever had! I’m grateful for the chance to use a gift that I haven’t in many years (more to come about that on Monday). I’m thankful for a festive day at The Grove with one of our favorite Aunties and Little, a ho ho ho time with Santa, and lots of giggles on the trolley. I’m thankful for the Newquist Family Ginger Cookies that are warm in my kitchen right now (recipe is on the right in Holiday Must Haves & Traditions). I’m grateful for Grammie’s arrival to bake with us this week, watch Christmas movies, play Scrabble and give lots of tickles! I'm thankful for the little ladies that sang their hearts out last night in the Pre-K Christmas show. And I’m thankful for the surprise trip to Disneyland that is happening this afternoon with our little ladies!!! Most of all I’m thankful for a God that loved us so much that He sent His Son Jesus to be born in a manger and live amongst us

so that He could know us and save us.
Now it’s your turn – take a few moments to reflect on all the blessings from this past week and cultivate your grateful heart!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Embrace Santa

It's the day to Embrace the Camera and get myself in a photo! Today we're Embracing Santa!! We can't get enough of the Big Guy this time of year. We almost got a perfect family photo with Old St. Nick, but one little dude had to be the jokester.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chosen

Each year at Christmas my mom would dress up me and my brother and any neighborhood kids that were around in bathrobes, scarves, belts… and we’d act out the story of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. I remember loving to play the part of Mary! All I ever wanted as a little girl was to be a Mommy one day, so it was fun to pretend. About 5 years ago I remember sitting in a church service at Christmas time, unable to button my pants because the twin baby girls inside of me were starting to take over! The pastor was talking about Mary, how God had chosen her to be the mother of God. God had found favor in her and although she was scared, she was honored to be chosen and willing to play the part. At that moment, in the midst of my fears of having two babies at once, an overwhelming feeling of joy came over me as I too felt chosen by God to take on this special role as a mother of twins. I was so honored that God chose me to have 2 babies. I think the Joy of Christmas is that we all have been chosen to be sons and daughters of God. That is why Jesus was born; so that we could know God and be in relationship with Him. We all have been chosen to do great things for God’s glory. Are we fully experiencing the joy that comes from being a child of God with great purpose? This holiday season, know that you are chosen, desired and loved by the Creator. Accept your role as a chosen Child of God.
*My friend wrote a great script for children to act out the birth narrative of Jesus. Check it out here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Star

They had only been married for 2 months when they celebrated their first Christmas together. They didn’t have much in the way of decorations and not much money to buy new ones, so they used what they had and for the top of the tree, he fashioned a star out of cardboard covered in tinfoil. It was a perfect star. It was the star I grew up with on the top of my Christmas tree. My Dad made that star and my brother and I took turns as to who got to place it on top of the tree each year. It was the most honored Christmas role! When I got married we were lavished with beautiful gifts but the one that still is most special to me is the new tinfoil covered cardboard star that my Dad made for my family. On the back he wrote, “To my wonderful children. A lifetime of Christmas’s together, Love Dad.” Now my children take turns each year putting the star on top of the tree . Last night my little Emma Girl had the honor. The star on the tree reminds us of the star that hung in the sky on the night that Jesus was born. That bright star was the sign God used to point people to His Son. That star led people from far away lands to the place where they could worship the new baby, The Messiah, The King. I pray that the star on top of our tree is a sign to point us to Jesus this Christmas season and that it hangs over a place where Jesus is worshipped throughout the year.


Now it’s your turn!
1. have fun reminiscing about a great holiday tradition from your family or a fabulous holiday must have
2. blog about it (if you don’t have a blog, put your thoughts in a comment below)
3. link up your Holiday Must Haves & Traditions below
4. enjoy visiting others and reading the comments below to get some great ideas to make this holiday season extra special

Friday, December 3, 2010

GHF

It’s Grateful Heart Friday! I have to admit, it’s not too hard for me to be grateful in December – chocolate covered marshmallow Santas, mint MnMs, Christmas cookies… need I go on? Aside from sweet treats, I have much to be grateful for in this past week so let’s jump in!
I’m grateful for a safe trip home from Thanksgiving in Sacramento. I’m thankful that God answered the girls’ prayer and healed their baby brother’s road rash after a little “accident” in the toy car (it’s OK Papa, normally you’re a pretty good driver!). I’m grateful for 2 amazing days at the beach where my children put up with me taking 562 photos to get one good one for our Christmas card! I’m super thankful that so far we’re on night 4 of all 3 kids sleeping through the night and not waking before 6:15am! Huge miracle around here! And I’m super duper thankful for the video down below that has made me laugh all week!, “right – eous - ness, what Mommy?” I’m grateful that tomorrow will be packed with Christmas festivities from getting our tree to enjoying Christmas Tea with one of my most favorite ladies. I’m grateful for a husband that does the dishes, a little boy that hugs me for no reason, and 2 little ladies that challenge me to be a better person daily. Most of all I’m thankful for a God that forgives me time and again. How does He put up with me? I’m thankful for His promise to transform me more into His likeness and that He never throws up His hands and walks away!
Now it’s your turn – take a few moments to reflect on all the blessings from this past week and cultivate your grateful heart!
* come back Monday to link up with your Holiday Must Haves & Traditions. I can’t wait!

video

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Embrace Papa

It's Embrace the Camera day!! We just got back from a wonderful week with Grandparents to celebrate Thanksgiving and I thought I'd highlight my Dad, Papa, for this embrace! It means the world to me that my Dad is so in love with my children!
And we're all convinced that Mack is a Mini Me of my Dad!!! Papa & Mack taking a stroll through the old Empire Mine

Grandpa, Emma, Georgia & Papa at our wonderful Thanksgiving dinner.

Papa took the kids for a ride in the old car my Grandfather built for my mother and her siblings when they were little. Georgia had a blast!

Papa teaching Mack to play the piano. Can't you just die for his expression?!! It's either, "wow Papa, you're amazing." Or, "Really? Is that all you've got?"
*See you back here tomorrow for a new idea in Holiday Must Haves & Traditions on Grateful Heart Friday!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Advent

When I was a child my father worked all over the world and I always looked forward to his return from over seas and the treasures he’d bring back! One special thing that my father brought us from Switzerland was an advent calendar. Everyday my brother and I would open up a new little window on the calendar that was beautifully decorated, to find a little picture inside. I remember that December 24th was the last window to open and inside was always a miniature crèche. I loved that so much!
The dictionary defines advent as, “a coming into place, view or being; arrival. The coming of Christ into the world.” Synonyms are: onset, beginning, commencement, start. When Jesus was born, truly, that was the beginning of abundant life. When Christ came into the world everything would be forever changed. The prophesies were fulfilled, the waiting for a Messiah was over, the promise of forgiveness and eternal life became reality. Today is December 1st, the beginning of the month, the commencement of the Christmas Season. I want to focus on what is most important and forget about all the distractions and chaos. I want to set my eyes on that tiny crèche that I know is coming into view on the 24th. In this Advent season, I’m focusing on the birth of Jesus and the new beginning He gives me everyday.

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