Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Day and a Family Picture 2014

Seven daughters, three sons,
two sons-in-law and four grandsons
(click to enlarge)

Nineteen people for dinner! Before we ate, we passed around piles of gifts and and the two baby boys.

Youngest grandson, startled

The roast beef turned out so yummy - my best ever, I think. I used McCormick rotisserie chicken seasoning and a smidgen of steak sauce. The chicken breast was delicious, too, fillets wrapped around a mixture of ricotta cheese, cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, basil pesto seasoning, minced garlic, and chopped tomato. My adult daughters brought most of the side dishes and desserts.

Something about glass, light,
and the color red
(cranberry pomegranate)
 Some of the most photogenic
presents I received this year...

A votive candle holder
from my sister-in-law Sue
A Christmas angel with cardinals
by artist Jim Shore,
from my sister-in-law Dana
(The cardinals remind me so much
of my mother. I bought a cardinal
ornament this year because of that!)
A bird pin from my sister Barb
(bought from SERRV - fair-trade, handmade),
and a purple scarf from my dad
and my (brand new) step mom Anny

A decorative dish from my daughter Mary -
she knew I'd love the sentiment

A journal with colorful pages
from my daughter Julia

A calendar from my husband

A Christmas sunset from God

I hope you've had a happy Christmas!


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve Peace

Dear friends,

I can't believe it's already well after 10 PM on Christmas Eve. It was a busy day, finishing up last minute projects and errands, and taking a shot at cleaning up before the rest of the family comes over tomorrow. I didn't have time to make a full dinner, so we heated up some pizza rolls and biscuits. I try not to sweat the small stuff.

We enjoyed going to my daughter's church (where we were members for many years) for their candlelight Christmas Eve service and seeing old friends. So refreshing, too, to hear again of the abundant grace that God offers us in the gift of his son, Jesus.

I loved the black lanterns against the red lighted background above their stage (pictured above), and watching my grandson try to eat his necktie.

We all passed the candle flame, one wick to another, as we sang carols. "O Holy Night" is my favorite from tonight. (Watch Celine Dion sing it here.)

Back at home, as we usually do, the kids opened presents from one of their aunts. Then Daddy talked a little about Jesus being the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9). Tomorrow he will read Luke 2 before we open presents, another Christmas tradition at our house.

After two of our adult daughters went back to their own apartments, the house fell to a hush for about an hour. I lay on the old red couch with a snowman pillow tucked under my head and watched the Christmas lights reflect off of the spinning ceiling fan blades.

I thought of peace.

As a mother of many, my days are often more filled with chaos than calm.

So I am thankful for the quiet, even for just an hour. I basked in it, savored it in my soul. Not all Christmas Eves have been like this. Last year was particularly stressful.

And now I'm just going to straighten up the stuff that got shuffled into my bedroom during what "cleaning up" we already did, then go to bed. I think I heard rumors of a few of my kids planning to clean up some more after I'm asleep. I'll go with that. Either way, I'm not going to fret about it. What gets done gets done.

I'm just grateful that all of my kids and grandsons still live nearby and that we can enjoy the holidays together. It may not always be this way, so I don't take it for granted.

​​I hope that you all have a blessed Christmas and that you know that you are loved deeply by God and others.



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Pure Devotion (Advent Poem 2014)

Pure Devotion
(In Metered Rhyme and Free Verse)
by Virginia Knowles, Advent 2014

My Messiah's pure devotion
Set his mission into motion
He preached his message clear and sure
And lived his gospel bold and pure
So innocent, he scorned sin's fall
His sacrifice redeemed us all.

Then raised to life beyond the grave
His power pure enough to save
To wash us clean and fill the soul
With Spirit's strength to make us whole
Let us then with forward motion
Live our lives with pure devotion.

He came and lived with pure devotion
A set purpose: to seek and serve 
   and save the lost
To give his own perfect life 
   as a ransom for sinners
His death was planned 
   long before his earthy birth
Though he wandered the countryside
There was no aimlessness about him
He knew who he was
He knew where he came from
He knew where he was going
Something about that infuses a soul 
   with sacred confidence
There was nothing that could 
hold him back from that destiny
Herod tried, sending soldiers 
   to destroy the infant Christ
The devil tried, tempting him 
   with bread and power in the wilderness
The Pharisees tried, asking questions to trap him
Then that failing, crucifying him
Yet nothing could stop that divine destiny
That mission of mercy and justice
His death instead set the captives free
And raised them up like a shining chalice
Filled with new wine, 
   with the Spirit of Living Fire
Do you see what he did for you?
Kindle it in your heart
Let it blaze hot and high
In holy consecration and
Follow him with pure devotion


Why the two versions of this poem? I am usually a free verse poet, but I woke up with the first two rhyme & rhythm lines of the first version and decided to continue it. (For those who like the mechanics of poetry, it is written in pairs of rhyming lines called couplets. The first and last couplets are trochaic tetrameter, and the middle four in iambic tetrameter.) After I wrote it in standard poetry structure, I couldn't help but reinterpret it in more substantial free verse, which is more my natural poetic voice. 

Here is the second reason: It never hurts to read it over a second time, does it? This is not frivolous subject matter. If it speaks more to one person the first way, and another person the second way, and to both all the more because they see it both ways – why not? 

The point is, the most important thing in the world is what God has done for us, and how we respond to that. I hope that comes through with full clarity in “Pure Devotion.”

Grace and peace,
Virginia Knowles

P.S. #1: I write an Advent poem every year. You can read all of them in here: Advent Poems by Virginia Knowles. You can also find most of my other Christmas links here: Christmas

Here are my Christmas links from this year:

Here are some of my other favorites:
P.S. #2: The photo at the top of this post is of crosses at Lake Baldwin Church, the back one draped in red for the Advent season. Here is the same photo with the Advent candles in front.

Christmas Lights and a Family Night

On Monday night, all ten of our children (four of whom no longer live with us), four grandsons, a son-in-law, and a daughter's boyfriend all joined us for a Christmas family night.

Our first stop was a home magnificently decorated for Christmas with thousands of lights and figures on the house and in the yard. They get a huge amount of traffic every year. We've been going for more years than I can count.

Down the street from that house, two more homes have elaborate Christmas village displays set up in their open garages so people can walk up and enjoy the sight.

Next, we all went to my second daughter's home (she is pictured above with her husband and baby son) for hot chocolate, chocolate chip cookies, and lots of popcorn.

And talking and laughing.

The little guy in the middle isn't in
the family picture because he was being shy.
His daddy wasn't there because he was at work.

And baby passing.

Back to mama!

We had a wonderful evening. I'm glad everyone could get together on such short notice, even though it is finals week. What a blessing!

What are you doing to make memories at Christmas?

Virginia Knowles

Friday, December 12, 2014

Ballerinas and a Baby Boy

My little girl and I went to see a student version of the Nutcracker ballet today at the convention center with our home school group. It was shorter than the full production, with helpful narration and some special effects, so it was just right for a nine year old.

With seven daughters, I can relate to Mother Ginger with all of the little girls emerging from under her huge skirt. Maybe that should be my new nickname?

Maria and the Nutcracker Prince take their bows.

All those pictures above were taken without flash in a darkened theater. With the low light setting on my camera and the Picasa editing, I think they turned out right fine!  It didn't hurt that we were in the fourth row.

Another fun surprise? Meeting up with my old friend Debbie, along with her youngest daughter, while we were waiting in line with our home school groups!  Though we've known each other almost 20 years and are friends on Facebook, we haven't seen each other in "real life" for the longest time. So good to catch up!

After we got home, this little guy showed up! So fun to watch one of my grandsons for the afternoon!

Maybe he's thinking, "Lookie here! I can kick my legs all the way up in the air. You think I can join the ballet?"

"At least I can chew my toes.  A little fuzzy, though. Who put this sock on me?"

"Well, if I can't dance ballet, maybe I can be the piano player instead. Thanks for the lesson, Auntie!"

I crashed for a nap after the little cutie left. Around 6 PM, two of my daughters were trying to wake me up so I could go buy the ingredients for orange chicken, which we had been craving. I wasn't cooperating, so they took my blankets! I guess that's payback for all the times I used that tactic for getting them out of bed. They told me it was for my own good. It worked. Eventually.

I finally stumbled out of bed to go to the grocery store, but instead picked up some Chinese takeout in the same plaza. First time I've ever done that, but there were only four of us eating here tonight and I figured we would try something a little out of the norm. Chinese chicken, rice, and broccoli! Yum!

Now it's time to go to bed. Tomorrow I can shop for groceries and clean the house!

Grace and peace,

Mother Ginger

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