The gifts have all been unwrapped and the last of the leftovers are hanging out in the fridge and in cookie tins and Ziploc bags... their hours/days numbered. Now we have all settled into the post-Christmas relaxed state, that we look forward to each year.
This Christmas, Jason gave Timmy a basic Kindle to support his reading habit and his love of all things gadgety. It was a big hit! So here I sit on the sofa typing on my laptop, sitting between Timmy and his Grandpa, both of whom are reading books on their Kindles. So much for the generational technology gap! :) Actually, what sticks out to me in this moment is that for Timmy, today's technology is his native language, while it is a second and foreign language for those of us who have been around awhile longer. He can't imagine a world without microwaves, computers, electronic gaming systems, DVD players/Blu-Ray, cell phones with texting and data plans, and GPS systems. He CAN'T IMAGINE IT! I'm just trying to catch up and not get too far behind!
I read something today about how one of the reasons that the original Star Wars movie achieved such box office success was that it debuted in a pre-VCR/DVD, pre HBO, pre Netflix world where if you didn't watch a movie at the theater, you may not get the opportunity to see it again unless it came on television and you were free to watch it that day at that time! Thus, people went to see the film again and again and again in the theater, never imagining that technological advances would one day be such that they could download a high-definition, digital copy of it to their personal lap-top computer or touch-screen tablet at a moment's notice and watch it at their leisure while curled up on a sofa or flying on a plane or riding in a car. For my Timmy, however, and those in the Mosaic generation or younger - this is how the world works and always has. AMAZING!
More amazing still - The God of the universe and his unfathomable gift of salvation, as detailed in the Holy Bible, are just as relevant to this upcoming generation as it was to mine, and all those who came before. Truly, the Great I AM doesn't change with culture shifts or scientific advances, or industrial revolutions.
There are always random things that need to be done this time of year in the build up to Christmas morning.
Sometimes they are routine Christmas-time tasks: shopping for stocking stuffers, baking, wrapping gifts, etc. Other times they are just plain random, end of the year, gotta-get-this-done-or-else things. I don't know about you, but I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by the random at the moment.
Here is a glimpse at the random tasks which are nagging at me to get them completed in the next 48 hours (that's right, this blog post is a glorified to do list... you can email me yours if it will make you feel better):
1 - Purchase ingredients and oversee Timmy as he makes his last batch of ice cream of the year. (Doesn't everyone make homemade ice cream when it is 32 degrees outside?!?!)
2 - Go for a much needed walk with a friend. (Doesn't everyone go for walks when it is 32 degrees outside... and raining?)
3 - Get bids from contractors for a project at work (mmhmmm, the easiest thing in the world is to get building project estimates the week leading up to Christmas...when it is cold... and raining... too bad my friend isn't a contractor... we could have just walked by the office, taken a few measurements, and killed two birds with one stone!)
4 - Write a grant application, photocopy it 12 times and submit it (for work) This one is straight-forward. I like it!
5 - Figure out how a bat got in the house today (not the baseball kind) and make sure it NEVER does again. *shudder*
6 - Buy more toothpaste. We have plenty, but it is the WRONG KIND. Toothpaste is one of those things I just can't compromise on... It is Crest or nothing, baby.
7 - Make arrangements to go see "Chipwrecked" with my Timmy. He's chompin' at the bit, folks.
8 - Make turkey chili, and turkey sloppy joes, and turkey tacos. (Why oh why did I buy a giant container of ground turkey and then why oh why did I decide to defrost it THIS WEEK when I really don't want to be in the kitchen?) Anyone want to come over for... turkey?
9 - Return one large mixing bowl, one cookie tin, two pitchers, one tupperware container, 12 hot glue guns, and 12 pairs of scissors to their rightful owners. I should not be trusted to borrow things, people!
10 - Get the laundry done and put away... perhaps this isn't a very random task, pretty routine actually, but I couldn't stop at 9 random things... it would have been too random. Ten is a nice round number!
Whew! I didn't get any of these random things done in the last 20 minutes, but I feel better now that it is all typed out. I'm thankful that in the middle of all of this randomness there are people I adore and blessings I am unworthy of, but so grateful for... a job, friends, a dear son and husband, a home, warm clothes, food, and a faith that gives EVERYTHING meaning. It's a good, weird, life! :)
Today is graduation day at Lock Haven University. I have butterflies of excitement in my stomach for all of the graduates who are waking up and preparing for this special celebration. We have three students from New Life who are graduating today and each of them have been such hard working, dedicated students who have so much to offer the world. A social worker, a teacher, and a business management major. What a beautiful example of how God gives each of us different interests, talents, and abilities and then sets us loose in a world that doesn't recognize Him so that we can go into schools, businesses, nonprofit agencies, and homes and make Him famous through our actions, values, words and attitudes.
I remember my own graduation day with great clarity. Parts of it were so precious and memorable and parts were somehow, anticlimactic, and yet the result was the same - finality & new beginnings. Closing the chapter on one phase of life and opening the next. From now on, life will be a little less "cut and dry" for these young adults. Choices will be weightier than "should I go to class today or not", or "should I stay up and study for that test or go to bed and get up early to study?" They will weigh career options, most likely move to new cities, find new churches, make new friends, and launch out on a new path.
One thing won't change today though. The God who brought them through the past several years of college studies, will continue to walk with them, guiding and directing them into the next phase of life, not letting a single success, setback, love story, heart break, detour, or challenge be wasted. As unknown as the future may be to our graduates, it is fully known to the One who made them and planned out their days. He is not up in heaven wringing His hands and hoping they will make wise choices. He has a plan to preserve them and keep them and grow their character and use them in beautiful ways.
I will be praying for you, class of 2011. May you rest in His assurance and go in His favor and share with the world your story of the God who upholds it all.
Yesterday I spent a few hours in the kitchen with Timothy and his friends, Tyler (8) and Elise (5). We have a round breakfast table in our kitchen and I removed the two rocking chairs that normally sit on either side of it so that the four of us could stand around the table and each person had their own space. I turned on a Veggie Tales Christmas CD, tied too-big aprons on each of them, gave them each a ball of cold sugar cookie dough and some flour to spread on the table, tossed some cookie cutters in the center and then I stood back and watched the magic happen. Smiles, giggles, dance moves, floured faces, patting, rolling, sneaking bites of raw dough, and joyful chatter. It was magic, and I want to do it again.
There were a hundred different pictures I wanted to take during the process, little hands pounding dough and gently picking up their cut out cookies, the way the littlest kiddo looked as I looked down on her smile and long eye lashes from my height, their silly impersonations, frosting being licked off of fingers, it was all golden.
Baking cookies and sweets with my mom was a much loved Christmas tradition at our house. We made several different kinds and then delivered platefuls of goodies to our friends and loved ones the week before Christmas. Here are a list of some of my all time favorite Christmas cookies and sweets in no particular order:
1. Peanut Butter Blossoms (the ones with the Hershey kisses on top)
2. Sugar Cookies
4. English Toffee
5. Chocolate Dipped Pretzels
I am definitely starting to get in the Christmas spirit these days and that is a GOOD thing. It is such a special season to enjoy for so many reasons. Today we'll have some of Timmy's friends over to make cut out sugar cookies and decorate them!!
*nostalgic memories of doing the same as a child commencing*
Okay, yesterday we covered Christmas albums, today let's talk Christmas movies!!!! For awhile our family would buy one new Christmas movie each year to add to our collection, but for the past several years we haven't found any that we thought were worth buying. Maybe we are missing some good stuff???? Here are some of my personal favorites that I look forward to watching each year:
1. Miracle on 34th Street - the newer version
2. White Christmas
3. A Charlie Brown Christmas
4. Holiday Inn
5. The Polar Express
6. The Santa Clause movies 1 and 2... not a big fan of 3
For those of you who can't wait to watch Elf or National Lampoons Christmas Vacation each year... what can I say, I just don't get it! To each his own and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!
One of our most cherished parts of the Christmas season here at the Ritz house is when we (and when I say we, I mean Jason) get the red and green storage containers down from the attic and pull out the Christmas movies and CDs that have been stored away since the previous December. I love deciding which CD to put in first... it sets the tone, somehow. Here are some of my all time favorite Christmas CD's in no particular order:
1. Christmas in Black and White - Nicole C. Mullen
2. When My Heart Finds Christmas - Harry Connick Jr.
3. World War II Radio Christmas - Bing Crosby
4. A Christmas Album - Amy Grant (1993)
5. Oh For Joy - David Crowder Band (this one is brand new!)
Here are some of the lyrics that get my heart in tune with the Christmas spirit:
If I could have a special dream
coming true on Christmas morn
I would want the world to see
How his Father smiled when Christ was born
The greatest gift the world has ever known
So come on kids, look high and low
for all the toys you dreamed to find,
But I believe you'll never know
a greater joy than Jesus' love inside.
- Love Has Come by Amy Grant
Can you see the wise men?
A star did guide them searching all the earth
Till they found the one child, the very Godchild,
who ruled the universe
Did they know the lady's little baby
was God and fully man
And everything they gave him
he himself had made with his hands?
- Lamb of God by Nicole C Mullen
Oh what a sacred nightthe stars are shining bright
The angels singing loudly, 'The Savior has arrived!'
And music fills the sky, Oh what a lullaby
To announce the new born Baby, to people far and nigh
- Sacred Night by Nicole C Mullen
Today was joy-filled, grace-filled, delightful. Today, my husband graduated from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Arts degree in Christian Education. This was his second Master's degree. Quite an accomplishment, I would say. It was such an accomplishment that many people have been referring to him as Dr. Ritz today. We chuckle at that... It seems to some that two Master's should equal one Doctorate (although I am certain that those who have completed the rigorous doctoral program at the Seminary would disagree). Still others have wanted to begin calling Jason, "Pastor" or "Reverend" today. This makes us smile as well. Jason is who he is. He is no less or more himself today than he was yesterday before he walked down the aisle of the Alumni Chapel to the organ's anthem and shook the hand of the Seminary President and accepted his diploma. The celebration of his accomplishment today, while noteworthy on earth, hasn't caused a single angel in heaven to rejoice. The knowledge that he has gained while studying under so many learned professors only has heavenly value when it is put into practice, lived out, and shared with a hurting world. I have had the privilege of seeing my husband live this out for the past two years as a campus minister, and I look forward to seeing him keep right on living it out for as many years as the Lord gives us. I hope that I am able to match him step for step along the way. So what can you call him now, you ask? How about "At Your Service." You can call me the same.
Carla Ritz. Proof positive that God uses cracked pots!