Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holid-- Nope - I actually MEAN Merry Christmas!

I don't know if you have noticed this where YOU live... but I have been noticing how shockingly FEW times I have heard someone say Merry Christmas to me. It's been so few times actually - that I am surprised when I DO hear it! Happy Holidays is safe and that has been spoken out often... but it is so vague. Sure - it includes all the 'winter holidays' but, especially in retail - what they are REALLY hoping we are celebrating is Christmas! While I have been known to light a few Hanukkah candles, and I admit that I have no idea what Kwanzaa even really is - I think most of us, even non-Christ followers at large - are comfortable celebrating Christmas in general. I saw a photo posted on facebook the other day in the same vein as those Black billboards with 'messages from God'... it was bright red and it said:

"I miss hearing Merry Christmas." ~Jesus

EXACTLY what I was thinking!!! So - whether you celebrate the Christs birth - or simply the message of peace and love during this season, I boldly say, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


And because you KNOW I can't not post some pictures - here are a few more layouts that have helped to get me once again all caught up!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Busy, busy, busy - so that now - I can Enjoy!!!

It's true... If you have been a friend here at Blessed Memories for any amount of time - you know that I set a 'deadline' for myself to get all things Christmas done by December 10th every year, and almost every year - I make it! Sure - it means that there will be those last few hectic stressful crazy full days right before the 10th arrives - but usually it results in having 2 FULL WEEKS before Christmas to actually be able to chill, unwind, and truly enjoy the holiday season!

This year was no different! Well - maybe a LITTLE different... but I made it! I actually had a few Stocking Stuffer items to get yesterday and so now I am really truly DONE done! No more stores for me! It feels so great! What was different this year was I skipped (gasp inserted here!) the handmade cards and went over to the dark side... yes - it's true... I took the printed photo card approach! I did, however, design the card myself digitally and uploaded it so it IS custom, one of a kind... but it saved us so much time and money... I am hoping next year to get back to making at least SOME of the cards by hand! I did participate in a fun Christmas Tag Swap... I know? Me? A swap? It is a rare rare occasion - but I am so glad that I did it!

Here are a few of the fun tags that I made for the Swap:

Here are a few more Digi LOs I have done... and no - I am no longer 'caught up' but have some fun pictures to scrap from November and December! Maybe tomorrow I will get to enjoy some Scrapping time!?

And, as mentioned, I skipped the individually handmade card route - and uploaded a Christmas Photocard. Here is that card, along with our family Christmas letter!

Happy Holidays 2011

This year we have pulled out Christmas decorations little by little over time, but yesterday we finally finished. As I sit down to write this letter, I must admit – it’s not ‘feeling’ a lot like Christmas to me! Even with the lights on & the presents wrapped, rereading our letters from years past, & the background music of ‘O Holy Night’… the sun is brightly shining – not the stars so much – & it just hasn’t felt like Christmas. This truth got me to thinking of the reality of the Kingdom that is near… even when we don’t FEEL it! I know by looking at the calendar (& all around me) that Christmas is, in fact, upon us & it will do me no good to pretend otherwise! In the same way – while we may focus on politics, world events, health, relational issues, the economy –the list can go on & on – the reality that the Kingdom of God is at hand does not change – and it does us no good to ignore it! We may not ‘feel’ it or see it – but the fact is, it is there – so thinly veiled from our own world – ready for us to reach through & grab hold of… to pull Heaven to earth & share the Love that truly makes Christmas time feel like Christmas! Now, all of the sudden, I am feeling a little bit Christmassy! The very heart of what we celebrate at Christmas time is the extravagant, abundant, incredible Love of God… a simple shift in our perspective can set our minds at rest & loose our hearts to sing! Jesus walked among man & saw the stress & worries that this life can throw at us. He never once discounted the validity of our emotions – however He constantly lifts our heads & calls us to look up… to see Him, and see things from His perspective. Rest in knowing that He is good & that He is for you. Whether you feel it or not – He loves you & the Kingdom of Heaven is nearer than you think! Reach out… grab hold… & share the Love!

Last year I wrote all about how we were anticipating Change… how we longed for it not even knowing what it was that we wanted to be different… & while many things remain the same – many changes have begun! The New Year brought the comforting return of routine – back to school & work & prayer meetings & our day to day schedules. Kaye is involved in DECA at school & took a trip in January & later went on to compete at the State Level. We took a great trip to the Portland area to visit with family, Dave continued to volunteer at The Seasons, & by late March, tennis was in full swing for Kaye. She worked really hard & made Varsity despite missing a few days of tryouts for that DECA trip & from late March through May, we were all rallying around her & the team & loved every match! She did great… she got to move around a bit - playing Singles & a few Doubles matches too & even got her first Bagel win (6-2; 6-0). My friend Robbin & I decided to take an impromptu trip to Boise to visit Darcie – a last minute girls weekend. In May, we went to Seattle to see “Stories from The Shack” & a few days later our baby girl turned Sweet 16! She was thrilled to get her license & a taste of freedom! We also traveled to Whidbey to visit my sister & her family. In June we had more family gatherings at home then Dave, myself, & Lorraine attended a meeting to get more information about SOAR – a Bethel Supernatural School of Ministry satellite school being hosted at 1st Pres. here in town. This was one of the changes that we had been hoping for. When I went to Redding a few years ago, I left part of my heart there & while I would LOVE to attend the BSSM there, to find that God was bringing it here was such a gift! It was not even a question if we would apply… & I was pretty sure God would get us in since it seemed like He was bringing it here just for me! I took a fall and sprained my wrist and also went through Sozo training over the summer – an inner healing prayer ministry. In July we enjoyed great music and friends at the Folklife Festival & Jazz in the Valley too!

In August, we had interviews to attend SOAR & were accepted. We kicked off our annual beach trip by stopping in to see the Niles & Matthews in Clackamas – we had SO much fun! Then we met up with the Parsleys & enjoyed an entire week in our beloved Manzanita! It was WONDERFUL! We came home in time for a new school year to start – for our whole household this time! We also had change in our home in transforming our living room with new carpet & furnishings! I LOVE it… it’s a totally different room… so warm & cozy & peaceful! Dave took a fishing trip before school kicked off. We meet once a week in the evening for a few hours & are absolutely LOVING it! Dave helped out at The Seasons enjoying Pat Metheny live among other concerts & we went on a Retreat at the end of September to get to know our fellow students. In October we took a day trip to Leavenworth and then found ourselves in the beginning of the onslaught of all things college! Kayelyn went to a few college fairs on the west side & ever since we have been getting pamphlets & info from various colleges. Reality is hitting that she is almost a senior & from there – who can know what God will do! We had a magical winter wonderland weekend with friends in a cabin outside of Walla Walla (say THAT one fast!) in November & enjoyed about 2 weeks of ongoing Thanksgiving celebrations with all sides of family to kick off the holiday season! We were thrilled to host family for a gathering in December – lots of visiting, laughing, game-playing, shopping, oh yes – & eating!? It was great! Kayelyn & I went with friends to see/worship with Kim Walker Smith – so good! Yesterday, as I mentioned, I finished up our shopping, picked up our Christmas cards, wrapped the gifts, decorated the tree, & fell into bed exhausted but with a sense of accomplishment! You see – even though it hadn’t FELT like Christmas – my goal each year is to be ‘done’ with all the madness of the holidays by Dec 10th. That way I can actually slow down & ENJOY Christmas – drinking in the true meaning, filling up with Him, & pouring out His Love to all those around me! As I wrap this up – Pandora is playing “You’re Here” by Francesca Battistelli… nothing can make it FEEL like Christmas time faster than a shifted point of view! This song is written from Mary’s perspective! Read on:
“You`re here, I`m holding You so near
I`m staring into the face of my Savior, King & Creator
You could`ve left us on our own, but You`re here
I don`t know how long I`m gonna have you for
But I`ll be watching when You change the world
I look at Your hands, they`re still so small
Someday You`re going to stretch them out & save us all
Noel, noel, God with us Emmanuel.
…someday I`m gonna look back on this
The night that God became a baby boy
Someday you're gonna go home again,
But You leave Your Spirit & flood the world with joy “

Christmas is here, & the Kingdom is near…
Reach out, grab hold, share the Love, & be filled with Joy!
~Dave, Karrilee, & Kayelyn ~