Monday, December 19, 2011

The Most Festive Time of the Year

Christmas quietly snuck up on me this year, but last weekend it hit me over the head like a bag full of toys... like a Christmas tree full of ornaments, like a sled flying down a snowy slope... and the festivities have continued in full swing since then. If I wasn't in the holiday spirit before, I am now!
It all started with Megan's Classy Cocktail Christmas Celebration - a great excuse to throw on a red cocktail dress and sip on peppermint martinis...

Followed by seeing The Nutracker with West, Jason and Erin then another cocktail party for a young professional women's group I'm a part of.

The next morning a group of us ran the Holiday Half Marathon in North Portland. People were pretty festive which actually motivated me to run faster - I wasn't about to let a grown man in green tights, a Santa hat and jingle bells on his shoes beat me!

These are the characters that made the run entertaining...

That evening was the Moore's annual Advent Celebration which is always the highlight of the season for me. It's a meaningful gathering of scripture reading, Advent reflections, music and wonderful people.

We had our company Christmas party this past weekend where we all went to "A Very Merry PDX-Mas", a holiday musical, Portland style (featuring songs about a green environmental Christmas, Seasonal Affective Disorder, and The Annoying Drummer Boy who beats on buckets and trash cans... soooo Portland).

This weekend, Megan and I went for a run in one of my favorite neighborhoods to look at all of the festive lights, then watched Elf.  Now all I need is some good family Christmas time in Texas, which comes tomorrow! Merry Christmas, y'all!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Awe of Christmas

This past Sunday as I was having storytime with my two-year-olds Sunday School class, something occured to me.  We were reading about the birth of Jesus (you know: Mary and Joseph, manger, star, shepherds, wise men, angels) and I realized... this may be the very first time some of these kids have heard the Advent story.  Even if they heard it a year ago when they were one year old, this might be the first time they can somewhat comprehend the story.  I can't remember the first time I heard the Advent story, but I've heard it so many times since then that I've let it lose it's wonder.

So this week in home group, we read the entire Advent scriptures (Luke 1:26-38; 2:1-20; Matthew 1:18-25; 2:1-12) and each picked out something in the story that we usually don't pick up on.  We asked questions and wondered about all of the details together.  And the awe and amazement of Advent came back to me.

Some of the parts of the story that we wondered over...
- The fact that Mary and Joseph weren't married. Think of all of the social implications people must have placed on them, the labels Mary would have been given, the courage it took for them to tell their story, the faith they had to have in God and what he promised through the angels.
- The angels appeared to shepherds, some of the most lowly people in that time. He sent angels to make this grand announcement to outcasts.
- Luke 2:19 "Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Mary went through a lot. Her fiance almost left her, people probably wanted to stone her, she was traveling on camelback for months during her pregnancy. And then after she gives birth to this baby, people come to worship him.
- What happened to the gold, frankincense and myrrh? Mary and Joseph had nothing and they were living in a stable. These gifts from the magi must have been the biggest blessing for them. Maybe they used these gifts to travel to Egypt and escape Herod.

It's easy to inadvertently read through the Advent story and forget the glory of everything that actually happened.  This year, try reading it through the eyes of a two year old. Or read it from the perspective of Mary or Joseph or the shepherds or magi.

Advent Conspiracy
Several years ago, Imago Dei started a movement called Advent Conspiracy, challenging people to focus on the real reason of Christmas and not get caught up in the stressful consumerism that this season has become. This will really make you think...

Friday, December 2, 2011

Laugh at Yourself

We can all use a good laugh now and again, even if it’s at your own expense.  I’ve found myself laughing at myself a lot lately (meaning that I’ve recently done some pretty stupid things).  But how boring would life be if we took everything seriously and just tried to act like we’re perfect all the time? Here are a few somewhat embarrassing, but pretty hilarious examples:

Two weeks ago I went for a bike ride and had my first biking accident involving a car. Don’t worry, the car didn’t hit me, run over me, or back into me. Because it was parked. That’s right, it was just sitting there and I managed to hit it. Thankfully the car didn’t have any damage, but my forearm got quite a nasty-colored bump. I looked around to make sure no one was pointing and laughing, gave a sigh of relief that no one had seen this catastrophe, then hopped back on my bike and peddled ever to Megan’s house to get an ice bag and share the story.

Yesterday, my friend Whitney and I were discussing how annoying it is to wear contacts (we have really deep, meaningful conversations).  She mentioned how awful it would be to lose a contact while camping. And I said, “Yeah, or to lose a contact in the snow when you’re snowboarding.” She replied, “Oh my goodness, is that how you broke your wrist snowboarding? Because you couldn’t see?” I thought of using that as an excuse, but instead just admitted, “Nope. I just busted it for no real reason.” And then laughed at what a lousy snowboarder I am.

For some reason the heater at my house is not working, so last night I decided to go out in the garage and fix it myself.  I turned the red nob to OFF which blew the little flame out and then I couldn’t get it back on.  My friends Conner and Mat came over to hang out and I automatically told them about the broken heater and took them out to the garage to show them what I’d done. Well, apparently I turned the water heater off instead of the actual electric heater (the first embarrassment that we had a good laugh over). So Conner lit the water heater again. I said, “Thanks, Conner. I’ll think of you when I’m taking a hot shower tomorrow morning.” I obviously hadn’t thought that through before verbalizing it. We all laughed for a solid minute over that one.

This week, my boss told me about an intriguing movie (or was it a documentary?) titled “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians”. So I pulled up the Multnomah County Library website and logged in to put the movie on hold. Our intern, who was looking over my shoulder, stared at me and said, “Do you have your library account number memorized?” (She might have coughed “nerd” after that.) “Duh, 33326372.” And then I admitted that I memorized it to the tune of Bethoveen’s 5th and that I sing that in my head as I type in the numbers.

Today, our receptionist Sarah kindly brought me sparking water from Trader Joe’s. I took the 42oz bottle up to my desk, sat down and twisted the top off. The sparkling water quickly bubbled up and sprayed out of the bottle as if it were a high-powered water hose. When I finally got it to stop spraying, I stood up and walked downstairs to display my soaking wet outfit to Sarah, who must have shaken the bottle before handing it over. She laughed at me and I said, “That’s ok; I can take it. I laugh at myself all the time.” Which is what inspired this blog post.

Wow, this post is getting long. My middle name is definitely not Grace – I’m clumsier than I realized.  All this to say, when you feel like things aren’t going right or like you’re a complete idiot, don’t put yourself down… just laugh at yourself.

Other People Are Catching On
My friend Brad (or let’s call him “Bob” for confidentiality) admitted to us last night that he went for a massage this week with a “naturalistic”, very Portland masseuse who ended up putting heals on him and clicking his feet together. Apparently this super odd practice healed his back, but not many guys would admit that they 1) got a massage and 2) wore heels in the process.  But it makes for an amazing story that we all enjoyed and got a big kick out of.

Speaking of Brad, I mean Bob… he introduced me to a new band that I absolutely love and has become one of my new favs.  We went to the Blind Pilot concert at the Crystal Ballroom last week.  I’ve been listening to their albums “We Are The Tide” and “3 Rounds & A Sound” nonstop since then.  Check them out!

My favs: Half Moon, Get It Out, The Bitter End3 Rounds and a Sound, New YorkKeep You Right, The Story I Heard