“So”: A Needle Pulling Thread?

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We’ve heard it a thousand times. As we grow older, we notice it more so – we echo the refrain more often. “The Times They Are A-Changin.” Bob Dylan put the words to music in his 1964 classic ballad, and folks before and after agree. And, the world seems to change faster now than it did 50 years ago.

Fashion, technology, social mores, entertainment, architecture – we see rapid, as opposed to evolutionary, changes in those and most areas of our lives. Those who have chosen a life off-the-grid may be the exception.

I understand why change happens, but it seems that our use of the English language should remain more constant.

This is not a weighty post about why we have many non-English-speakers in our country. Nor is it a discussion of scientific and technical terms created within industry and business. I am not going to comment on the deluge of acronyms imposed on our culture by way of texting. I am resisting the urge to have fun with decades of really goofy fad words (or fine words used in goofy ways). Groovy, slammin’, dude, righteous, pad, hot mess, total babe, gag me with …

I said I was resisting!

No. My beef is with the word “so.” That’s what I said – “so.” It’s a puny little word. It really means nothing, unless I distort the spelling of it and pretend it’s actually the word Maria referenced when she taught scales to the musically-inclined von Trapp kids.

Saying the word “so” is like saying “well,” but not in the sense of state of being. It is a mere transition, an introduction to a sentence at the beginning of a conversation. But, today young people (25 and under is my best guess) are using it in the place of two words I heard all about in my speech classes and professional workshops some years back.

“So” is replacing “um” and “ah.” Nay, has replaced.

How many of you went through school repeatedly hearing that we should eliminate those extra “um’s” as we speak, particularly in public? How many of you worried during presentations that you might falter and let some “ah’s” escape? Those utterances could easily deem one lacking in confidence, or unprepared; they could cause “A” content to result in a “B.”

Now, along comes “so.” I blame reality TV. Participants use certain expressions repeatedly. For example, with brilliant introductory comments like “having said that” or “with that being said,” they cast presumably life-changing votes and dole out destiny-determining gifts.

I recently heard an interview on a St. Louis news station, and in it the interviewer was communicating with a group of very bright, accomplished science students who were explaining their work in robotics or a similar field. While I don’t remember the details of the interview, the question-answer part went something similar to this:

Interviewer: When did you first get into X?

Respondent #1: So, we always enjoyed working together, and we …

Interviewer: Where did you obtain the resources needed to pursue your project?

Respondent #2: So, as a group, we used crowd funding, and…

Interviewer: What are your goals with your invention?

Respondent #3: So, our plans are to…

Dazzle the world with the use of the word “so!”

You get my point. Obviously, gifted young people were completely ignoring the long-standing role of “um” and substituting “so.” I say if “um” is not needed in these cases, neither is “so.”

It was distracting, as you can see. I really don’t remember the good stuff at all. I’m so over it!

Here’s where “so” belongs:

Prohibition

“So, how’s that cold beer taste, my friend?”

(This photo was taken at the end of Prohibition, which occurred on December 5, 1933. My life-long friend shared the photo with me. For local readers, it is my grandfather, Alvin Adams, Sr., on the right and her grandfather, Reggie Crouse, left. She estimated they were about sixteen at the time.)

Blog - fall day

“There has been a lot of wind, so the leaves are really falling.”

(Taken in the early eighties, I believe, this is my paternal grandmother, me, and my mom on a lazy fall day at Grandma’s. There aren’t many of those in 2015. Notice the seat is a painted tractor tire.)

 

blog - baby onesie

“You’re sooo big.”

(I’m feeling melancholy these days since this beautiful boy is now a senior in high school and 18 years old. I tried to crop out the mess, but couldn’t get rid of it all. That’s okay, though. Nothing about raising kids is neat and tidy!)

I enjoy a good rant about words, but few things are as special as a long-awaited drink with an old friend, a crisp autumn day spent with family, or a freshly-bathed baby in a clean white onesy.

So… that’s all I’ve got for today.

Have a Thoughtful Thursday!

Hally

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My MOGuate Girl

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Aww, a moment to reflect. Now that the kids are settled into school and the summer craziness has calmed, I have a bit of time to recall the days of this waning season and the multitude of activities that filled those days.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here at Bloom, Bond & Build. It was an eventful summer – expensive, but eventful. I traveled with family to Newport, RI, book club members to a Southern beach, and church lady-friends to Hollywood. Let me rephrase. I went with Christian sisters to LA; they’re nothing like Dana Carvey’s church-lady caricature on SNL.

My son got his first real job, and began working full-time. He landed something far better than the typical burger-flipping position of most teens. Or, at least he thinks so. He’s cleaning farm equipment for a machinery retailer.

My daughter cheered, camped, and socialized.

Amidst all of that, though, the best thing we did all summer was something only a couple of hours from home at Tan-Tar-A in Osage Beach. We attended our first ever MOGuate, and it was a great way to end our summer.

http://www.tan-tar-a.com/

So, what is MOGuate? MOGuate is a group of adoptive families who include children born in Guatemala. Most families are from Missouri, but a few from other states have found this friendly, welcoming group and attend as well. I was told about MOGuate by another more astute adoptive parent.

http://www.moguate.com/

Rosaline came to us when she was 4½ months old, becoming a precious younger sister to our now 18-year-old biological son. We have always been open about her adoption. And, when your child is adopted internationally and a child of color (unlike that of her parents), it is a topic that comes up more often. People have asked about her nationality and our story since she was a baby, and I have never been offended. We’ve talked about traveling to our daughter’s birth country, but have yet to make that trip.

We took a big step toward learning about Rosaline’s culture. We made connections with other adoptive families, learned about the opportunities to visit and serve in Guatemala, and demonstrated to our daughter how very much we love her and appreciate her heritage. MOGuate was a lovely weekend to share as she approached her 14th birthday.

Moguate Girls

(My girl is the gleeful one right in the middle!)

Within moments at the Pizza Meet-And-Greet, other teens approached my daughter and warmly welcomed her to their group. At the same time, parents (new ones and returning) shared stories and experiences with my husband and me.

The next two days were specifically designed for social time. Kids of all ages played in the resort’s pool, and activities were planned for various age groups. Younger girls had a slumber party and did fingernails. Teens boated and had movie nights. Some families played mini-golf, and others dined together. All were interacting and sharing and making friends. Rosaline loved every moment, and I felt so happy to make the connections we did.

We learned about groups that regularly travel to Guatemala for the purpose of helping families in need there, as well as exploring the culture and country where our children were born. It turns out that travel to Guatemala for these families is very common, and their testimonies made a trip for our family seem much more realistic and possible.

Parents shared their experiences with locating birth parents and foster parents. They described DNA testing that has given them a more complete picture of their children’s ancestry. Some Guatemalan children are more European (Spanish) and others are more Mayan. But, like the heritage of most here in the melting pot, there are those children who have other nationalities represented in their DNA, too. And, most exciting, some MOGuate kids have even found cousins and other relatives among their MOGuate family. My assignment: check out 23andMe to pursue DNA testing for my family.

https://www.23andme.com/

The highlight of the weekend was the Saturday evening banquet, silent auction, and Quinceanera ceremony. Dinner was casual, so no one had to dress up after being in the sun all day. The food was kid-friendly and yummy.

The MOGuate founder spoke to the audience about the history of MOGuate, and we learned about the wonderful work being done to fight childhood malnutrition in Guatemala by ALDEA. BTW, “aldea” means “hamlet” in Spanish. Money raised from the silent auction, which included a colorful display of handicrafts, photography, and art from Guatemala, goes directly to this organization. I brought home a beautiful framed photograph.

http://aldeaguatemala.org/site-map/

Next, one of the parents officiated a Quinceanera ceremony for three young ladies who have reached the age of 15. In Latin American countries, this is an important celebration for young women. I recalled being in high school and traveling to Mexico for a two-week study program, and one of the girls from our host family had just celebrated this herself. Quinceanera marks the end of childhood and the beginning of womanhood. Yikes! I’m not sure about the womanhood part, but the dresses are to die for. It is a lovely tradition. Here are a couple of sites that explain the Quinceanera more completely.

http://gomexico.about.com/od/historyculture/g/quinceanera.htm

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quincea%C3%B1era

The moral of the story… sometimes we don’t have to go far to find the best experiences. Good people, a commonality, time to relax and unwind. These are key ingredients for a good time, but when we are also doing for and loving our children, that’s as good as it gets.

If you are an adoptive parent, check out the resources that match your situation. Find those opportunities to help your child feel special and to look deeper into the place from where he or she comes. And, if it happens to be Guatemala, check out MOGuate!

Do you have a resource or tip for adoptive parents? I’d love to learn more. Or, did you do something special with your family over the summer that we all might enjoy. Please share your experiences with us.

Happy Monday!

Hally

Junk In, Junk Out

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We regularly hear (almost, constantly hear) that we need to put good things into our bodies – vegetables and fruits, good fats, the right combination of fiber, protein and carbohydrates, etc. We all know the drill.

How often, though, do we focus on the importance of putting good stuff into our minds, hearts, and souls? Rarely does that take center stage; rarely is feeding our psyches properly a priority.

Today, after not posting in a couple of months, I want to share several soul- and heart-healthy items with you.

First, let me tell you about the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. My daughter attends a Christian school, and each spring the 7th– and 8th-grade students take a trip. Shout out to First Baptist Christian Academy in Troy, MO: http://www.troyfirst.com/academy

Love it!

On odd years, they visit the Creation Museum. I went with the group this year, and it was my first visit to this truly educational and inspiring museum, which is much more that a museum. During the day, there were topical movies being shown in a lovely cinema, talks and lectures blog june15 1[1]  (Ken Hamm was there the day we visited), multi-media presentations, exhibits, grounds and gardens to tour, zip-lines and ropes courses, and more. They are currently working on building a replica of the ark on a property within an hour from the museum. The Creation Museum is at the Ohio/Kentucky border (a good drive from the St. Louis area), but I highly recommend it for a long family weekend.

The websiteblog june15 2[1] looks a bit juvenile in my opinion, but the destination is well worth a drive: http://creationmuseum.org/

Next, I have another movie to tell you about. I had the opportunity to preview “War Room” in May, and I urge you to see this movie when it releases on August 28th. The Kendrick brothers bring “War Room” to us; they are known for prior works including “Courageous” and “Fireproof.” I loved the characters, the acting, and the point. I have been working on a little project within my own home as a result of seeing “War Room,” but I don’t want to give too much away. You won’t find it cheesy or corny; I don’t liken it to any other unhealthy food. Check it out:  http://warroomthemovie.com/

There is a great online magazine for teen girls named “Girlz 4 Christ.” You can subscribe for free, and they will be doing a feature on “War Room” in their next edition. Here’s the link for them if you or your daughter would like to check it out: http://www.girlz4christmagazine.org/

Lastly, and here’s where it gets really exciting, I am giving away a book. I am a fan of Cynthia Ruchti’s fiction, and I want to share her uplifting work with you. Her latest, “As Waters Gone By” is a story of hope. I just received my copy, and I would love for you to read along with me.

Cynthia Ruchti's photo.Now, I totally get that many busy moms or those working full-time don’t have time to read, but sometimes summer affords us that opportunity/luxury. If it does, don’t waste time with junk, but put your mind to something that’s good for you (and tastes good). Here’s a link to learn more about Cynthia Ruchti and her fiction and non-fiction books:  http://www.cynthiaruchti.com/

 

Now, for a chance to win a copy of “As Waters Gone By,” comment here with the name of a  book, movie, or place that fed your soul and uplifted you and your family. The winner will be announced on Friday, June 19th! I look forward to getting lots of good ideas!

Happy Monday!

Hally

Muscles Like Popeye?

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Hi, all! I am so happy to see nice weather here in the middle. If you have kids on spring break, I hope you are enjoying your time together. Spring is wonderful, truly. However, with the season comes lots of busyness – weddings, showers, graduations, school programs, and more. Everyone is ready to emerge from inside and do things. Aren’t we blessed to have things to do, people to do them with, and the means to do them!

Last week, I guest posted at a site of writer friend, Sheri Zeck. Sheri writes sweet stories of people she knows and admires, and her life in Iowa. She is a contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul. Read my article and get to know Sheri at:

http://www.sherizeck.com/my-blog/guest-post-magic-or-muscle

And, I hope in the midst of the busyness, I will be back again soon.

Take Care!

Hally

 

How Do You Fight the Blues?

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Happy Wednesday. Happy hump day. How are you surviving the long winter?

I specifically asked for a HappyLight (http://www.verilux.com/light-therapy-lamps/winter-blues/?gclid=CIKKqpiH68MCFYY_aQodboIAsQ) this past Christmas, and I got one. I know myself, and I know that sunless winters get very long for me. Last year’s winter resulted in my overwhelming need to fight the drear with a new kitchen paint color. I  NEEDED light. My kitchen is now bright orange. I have not yet initiated my new light, but I think this may very well be the week.

What do you do to beat the winter blues, defeat the doldrums, and fight the funk? A good game of alliteration is fun, but the pleasure is short-lived.

Lots of folks find solace in their pets. I am not a pet-in-the-house kind of person, but my family has found a way to make that work. Our little Chiweenie (http://www.all-about-chihuahuas.com/chihuahua-dachshund-mix.html), which we purchased from a lady in the Aldi parking lot was the only furry one in the bunch. He had fleas, but was the cutest of the group and has been lots of fun. He is in his home within our home. He stays in his kennel unless on our lap or outside for play, and he is happy to hang out in there if he is in a room with us.

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It should be noted that this precious nugget sings every morning on our commute to school. He enjoys Bruno Mars, Michael Buble, and Jeremy Camp.

Now, for any in the area… There will be a super cool dog show on Saturday, May 23rd. Our time is not yet determined, but we will have drawings, doggielisious prizes, freebies, and more. Plan on bringing your four-legged friend out to help support Spring Branch Helping Hands 4-H Club’s Relay for Life team. I’ll share more details soon.

That was a word from our sponsor. Okay, advertisement over.

So, there are therapeutic lights and our pets. What about a good exercise session? That’s a good way to keep one’s mood in check. I have not done much physical activity lately, but I do know that’s a good way to combat the blahs. What is your favorite exercise routine? I had a love affair with Zumba for a while, but that fizzled a few seasons ago.

How about a bit of retail therapy? That’s not always a viable solution, but it works pretty well at a dollar store or at second-hand shops.  You know that may be a good future post… A list of all of the “thrift” (aka “trift” stores as my German mother-in-law calls them) in the area might be a fun little research project. To be honest, I am not much good at shopping consignment or second-hand stores. I am not snooty, but I just don’t have the eye to find the treasure among the trash.

Going back a moment to German language, here’s a link some might find interesting, especially if you have German ancestry or like the sound of languages. We laugh about it often at my home: http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=video+of+how+the+german+language+sounds.&FORM=VIRE1#view=detail&mid=84243FECAF224F190DFA84243FECAF224F190DFA

I, like our little Chiweenie, am a mix, but my husband is 100% Kraut.

A fun craft, a day spent scrapbooking, a lunch date, an escapist book, and even a winding, chain-of-consciousness mind ramble can add a bit of fun to cold, caught-inside days.

It’s your time to share now. What is your secret for surviving winter?

Have a Blessed Wednesday!

Hally

Valentine’s Day Options and Observations

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Warning: This post does not take a straight line.

When couples are dating or newly married, we girls want our mates to come up with special gifts at birthdays and holidays. We hope that our partner will just know what would be the most romantic, spot-on, perfect gift without hints or instruction needed.

As we “mature” together as a couple, we women come to realize that this may not be realistic. We then begin to hope our counterparts will be observant enough and listen sufficiently to notice when we express a liking for something, and that they will remember that when it is time to present a… present.

That is sometimes a lot to ask as well.

I have been known to simply shop for myself. This past Christmas, however, my husband presented me with a unique gift of a Date Night at Dierbergs School of Cooking. It was something that I had never asked for, but he thought it would be an experience we would enjoy. He was right. I tend to be much more about experiences that objects like jewelry or clothes.

In January, alongside seven other couples, ranging from twenty-something’s to senior citizens, we prepared a meal and ate together during the two-hour evening at the Bogey Hills store in St. Charles, MO.

Our instructor Nancy and her assistant were great hostesses, and they shared some cool cooking tips. We were given some brief instruction, and each couple was tasked with an assignment to complete. Once the meal was ready, we ate, visited, complimented one another, and left with a set of recipes. The people were nice, food was great, setting comfortable. A victory for Tim!

blog - VD - Feb. 2015

Nancy surveyed the group, and I think that in every situation the evening was a gift from the male spouses or boyfriends. So, with a few days left before Valentine’s, this may be something to hint around about. There may still be a few openings available. Here’s the link:

http://www.dierbergs.com/School

Now, let’s shift gears just a bit to movies. I know everyone is talking about a certain very controversial movie that releases this weekend. I have read lots about this movie and the book it’s based on, as I am sure many of you have as well. I have not read the book, but I confess that a fellow book club member shared a couple paragraphs aloud from her kindle at one of our meetings. Bloggers have presented perhaps 50 reasons why this is not a movie we should see, and I can’t contribute anything new to the conversation.

Except I will say this:

I remember when “The Bachelor” first aired in 2002. I sat appalled at the premise of the show. I found the idea of one man being sought by all these women to be insulting and chauvinistic, and that was without knowing how the relationships would play out during the “dating” process. Somehow, over time, I began to accept the show and watch it regularly, and, quite frankly, the series now is much more scandalous than it was in early seasons. My point is that we all become desensitized to what we see. What was once trashy or abhorrent slowly becomes commonplace. And, we are all subject to this. So, we should guard against it. No judgment, just an observation.

Another direction now…

I would like to offer an alternative to the highly anticipated movie that I described above. May I suggest “Old Fashioned.” You will find it about one tenth the number of theaters that will be playing the high-profile film. But it you seek it out (it will be in the St. Louis area, BTW), you may be pleasantly surprised. Here’s the link:

http://oldfashionedmovie.com/

So, here’s how I became aware of the film. I had the opportunity to preview a Christian movie to be released on March 20th. That movie preview was on Thursday evening, February 5th, and it is titled “Do You Believe.” This is a movie made by the creators of “God’s Not Dead.” There are numerous notable actors in “Do You Believe,” and I recommend this movie to your family or church group. The link for this film is:

www.DOYOUBELIEVE.COM

We saw several previews, viewed “Do You Believe,” and completed a survey about the movie. My intention was to bring this post to you last Friday (for Fundays). I have categorized it there even though I am coming to you later.

I planned to write this after coming home on Thursday evening, but, as I left the theater, I saw I’d received a message that my first cousin had suddenly lost her 59-year-old husband. The two of them were married 37 years and raised four amazing children. Theirs was a fruitful and happy marriage. I didn’t feel right writing this before today. Please pray for my cousin and her kids, and all those missing sweethearts and loved ones.

Life does not take a straight line.

Blessings,

Hally

More Than Enough

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Hi, again! It is unusual for me to post two times so closely together (especially recently), but today I’m sending you to another blog hosted by a new friend in the blogging/Christian writing world. Her name is Cate, and she shares all sorts of good stuff at her site “The Fabulous Wife.” I know life is super busy, but there is a lot of great information available online. If you have some time, check-out a few sites. I like to “sample” a few each week, kinda like I would at the dessert table for church fellowship meals.

My article at Cate’s site is a little encouragement for all who have felt inadequate at one time or another, and that’s just way too many of us. As we start a new year and are considering self-improvement, keep in mind that we are “enough.” Setting goals for better health and more productivity is admirable, as long as we remember we have all the tools needed to do just what He made us for.

See more of my post and take a taste (I mean a read) at The Fabulous Wife:

http://www.thefabulesswife.com/2015/01/guest-post-power-of-word-by-hally.html

Blessings!

Hally

Cakes Without Calories!

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Happy Friday, friends! I hope the New Year is off to a great start for everyone. It feels like I am only now getting back into the rhythm of things. My late-night, late-rising sleep habits were hard to break after everyone returned to school and work.

For local folks, the cakes are on the way out…blog - cake3 - Jan. 2015

In 2014, St. Louis celebrated its 250th anniversary with a fun display of cake statues in key spots around the metropolitan area and surrounding counties. I learned about the “cake tour” last spring and wanted to take my own. My plan, mapped out and scheduled, was to see 20 of the creations on a 4-H Arts & Crafts field trip in the fall. As parents, most outings are connected with our children’s activities. That’s a hard habit to break, too. Alas, one activity bumped another, and my tour didn’t happen.

My kids are teens now, and my husband and I are just starting to find that, while they still keep us very busy, there are those opportunities to get out on our own, go with our friends (most of whom are now blog - cake2 -Jan. 2015empty-nesters or nearly so), and leave the youngin’s on their own. That’s kinda nice.

Though I never viewed more than a few random cakes in passing, a lovely young friend of mine did. She, like some others, made it a goal to see and document many of them during the year, so I will live vicariously through her. Here are a few pictures and a lesson for parents…

Raising kids is tough and rarely ever a cake walk, and sometimes we miss out on things we would like to do because we defer to their needs at the time. But… the rewards for a job well done are sweeter far than any cake, pie, or brownie around. I don’t say that lightly. And, ultimately, time goes by so quickly, and young ones are soon on their own. Let’s enjoy all the craziness while it last!

Enjoy these cake photos courtesy of Ms. Lauren Berry’s. And, does anyone think she looks a bit like a blond Anne Hathaway? Thanks, Lauren, for sharing!

And, here’s the link to information about the cakes and the celebration that was:blog- cake4 - Jan. 2015

http://www.stl250.org/cakeway.aspx

Enjoy the Weekend!blog- cake5 - Jan. 2015

Hallyblog- cake1 - Jan. 2015

 

Boots are Hot! Shoeboxes are Better!

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Happy New Year! It’s been a while, but I am finally getting back to BBB with a post that was inspired in the old year. I always run a bit behind. And, I get distracted. I know that I wrote a post about accountability, and I promised a follow-up to that. I have not forgotten. I remain accountable.

And, who can begin a new year without at least addressing the idea of goals (I don’t wish to jinx any successes by using the “R” word)? Those thoughts are in my head as well, but today, I wanted to share with you an experience I had during the holiday season and an opportunity for you to consider this year.

There is one outreach my family supports each holiday season; we have done so sin20141205_101359ce my children were very young. It is Operation Christmas Child, part of Samaritan’s Purse International Relief, a Franklin Graham ministry. Many of you will be familiar with filling the boxes full of small toys, toiletries, hard candy, and stuffed animals to be sent to children all over the world.

I started filling boxes with my own kids for a couple of reasons. It helped them to actively participate in the giving. They loved going to dollar stores and shopping for items for a boy or girl just their age, and they still get excited about it. It makes me happy to think of children who have so little receiving a shoebox full of treasures selected especially for them. And, they also receive information about the gospel story with their boxes. OCC wants to provide something special for these children. But, more importantly, they seek to make disciples.20141205_150210

So, it was super rewarding to go with my daughter, two of her classmates, and their school’s administrative assistant in early December to one of the OCC processing centers. There are nine around the country; we visited and worked at the Minneapolis center for three days. It was a great experience.

The trip was five days, because we spent two of them on the road. Of course, we HAD to see the Mall of America. Cha-Ching! And, we had a great time at an activity called Escape MSP. It was a room from which you had to escape, using your wits, in order to avoid being blown up. We exploded. Fun times!

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The time at the center was awesome. Volunteers come from all over, and, after a bit of training, work alongside hundreds of others. It was fun to visit with others serving as we inspected, taped, scanned, and packed boxes to be shipped. At periodic intervals, operations would stop so that we could pray over the boxes or hear stories of how the boxes had touched lives all over the globe. Did you know one young woman found and married the man who sent her a box when he was just a boy 14 years earlier? That’s definitely a “God-thing”!20141205_133412

My adult partner found copies of a beautiful letter included in many boxes. One family, having lost a daughter, prepares boxes every year in honor of their child, and they shared their story with the recipients of those boxes.20141205_101334

Our girls enjoyed meeting a twenty-something worker there, too. She was our line leader for at least one of the three days, and they thought Stephanie was very cool. She was. And, it made me realize how important young Christian mentors are to our younger girls. I think that’s a topic for a future post, too!20141205_122543

There are many ways to give and serve during the holidays. Many are super generous during the Christmas season at the local, national, and international level. It’s one of the most precious things about that time of year.

There is much more to say about our mission trip, but I will leave you with links for OCC, the wonderful school my daughter attends, Mall of America, Escape MSP, and the story mentioned above.

http://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/operation-christmas-child/

http://troyfirstfbca.com/

http://www.mallofamerica.com/

http://escapemsp.com/faqs/

http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/filipina-marries-boy-who-sent-shoebox/

Enjoy a Thoughtful Thursday,

Hally

Tree Time and Nesting Time

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Do you know that beautiful, even magical place right before the holiday when the work (or, at least the tasks you decided you had to accomplish) is behind you and you can begin to relax and enjoy? Are you there?

If not, finish up what must be done, and get about enjoying your family and the tree lights, the holiday movies and carols, the festive food and drink… and take time to savor and reflect upon the true and eternal gift of Christmas.

I discovered a site that has lots of fun and meaningful information about Christmas. You will find the story of Christmas and resources for kids. There is history and cultural information as well.

Mom, if you’re reading, this would have been a great place for information for our international Christmas celebrations. For readers, my mom had us “traveling” to a different country for our Christmas time together for about fifteen years. We visited Holland, Finland, Ireland, Brazil, Guatemala, Greece, Italy, and several other countries, Mom preparing activities, food, and entertainment connected with the customs of Christmas in whichever country we were recognizing that particular year. It was fun and educational!

So, here’s the site, which appears to be developed by a man who is a Christmas super-fan and a Christian:

http://www.whychristmas.com/story/birth.shtml

Now, speaking of Christmas traditions, here’s one that seems to be growing more popular with Missourians every year. We have Branson, and it is a wonderful place to visit during the holidays. Branson, and specifically the Silver Dollar City Christmas Season, is completely patriotic and American, but it is also wholly Christian.blogtree4

My family visits most years over the Thanksgiving weekend. It is sort of our official kick-off to the Christmas season. On our most recent, I took photos of some very cool trees. I love themed trees like Will Ferrell (as Buddy) likes sugar. Though, I really like sugar, too.

Here’s an article that I wrote for Vista (a take-home paper published by Wesleyan Publishing House) a couple of years ago. I thought I would share it, along with my pictures from the Christmas store in Branson. And, whether your tree is sparkly or sparce, blingy or boring, enjoy!

 

Oh Tannebaum, Oh Tannebomb

I love designer Christmas trees. I’d enjoy one with red wire ribbon and cardinals. If not red and bird covered, I’d like gold and silver with lots of shiny balls and bling. Perhaps a miniature tree in my kitchen, decked out with tiny copper cooking utensils?

Truthfully, each year as I visit Christmas stores, I admire the fabulous, themed trees. They are color-coordinated works of art. Some are so stunning they look good even hung upside down. Imagine that! So, each year I lament that one day I will have a themed tree in addition to our humble Franz Family tree.blog-tree3

What our tree lacks in design, it makes up for in variety. There are airplanes and apples, reflective of the careers my husband and I have had in aerospace and education. There are a few pickles, symbolic of an old German tradition. Others are souvenirs from summer vacations, a pair of kopeli from Arizona and twin pirate ships from the Outer Banks.

Though it is not fashionable, it could be considered functional. If an accident occurred near the tree, it would double as a first-aid kit, countless cotton balls and tongue depressors made available by simply cannibalizing a few of my children’s handmade crafts.

Our tree is not couture or coordinated, but maybe that makes some sense. There is symmetry in the fact that this secular symbol of Christmas is humble and simple. After all, our holy symbols reflect the humble and simple scene of Christmas. As we place our nativities around our home we are reminded of the birth of Jesus, which was anything but fancy. It was, however, beautiful and designed to perfection.

blog-tree2Does simple equal fabulous and lowly equal grand? Perhaps not when we’re talking Christmas trees, but, where God is involved, you bet it does!

 

Have a Blessed Christmas!

 Hally