Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Reflecting on Christmas

I'll be honest, I am a big traditions one thing I love about Christmas is that we still do things the same way we did them when I was a little girl!

We opened stockings before breakfast and the kids had fun playing with their new treasures while my dad made our Christmas breakfast of eggs, bacon and hash browns ( we went through 31 eggs!). Top that off with homemade cinnamon rolls and we were all nice and full from breakfast around the time most people were eating lunch!

It was fun watching the kids open presents...but if I am being honest...I also felt a bit like a referee! Trying to get six kids to open gifts one at a time, stay seated, and watch their siblings open their gifts when their turns were over was quiet the feat! Not very successful most of the time!:)

Grace was feeling sick...truly, off to the doctors we went in the afternoon (we were praising the Lord that we did not have to go back to the ER). Strep throat it is...but the poor thing also started throwing up while we were there. (She is doing better today and we rejoice in that!) When we left the doctors there was about an inch of snow that had fallen and we delighted that evening in having a "White Christmas" after all!:)

We adults had our "white elephant" gift exchange when the kids went to bed and enjoyed the fun of stealing gifts and getting to keep our "prizes". But, in the end...I have to agree with a post Challies wrote a few days ago. What makes Christmas special is truly being able to be together as a family and sharing in some special traditions. Christmas itself and the meaning of it should be celebrated each and every day of the year.

I thought you would enjoy seeing the end result of the first picture that I posted on today's here is a little video for you!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Our Christmas Eve

Well, today was our "Christmas Eve" and it really was a fun filled day!

-Stockings got filled...the kids with little gifts and Bryan's, mine and Garett's simply held bags to keep their shape!:) How fun it was to fill two new stockings. A gal from our old church in CA made our stockings for us and I was able to find two that "fit right in" on Ebay last Christmas!)

-We took a slow, cold walk around the felt good to get out for some fresh air! Tomorrow, we are praying the forecast holds true and we will see 4 inches of snow filling the air!

-We read some books....Paul read "The Charlie Brown Christmas" to the kids and before bedtime we spent some time reading "What God Wants for Christmas" and opening the boxes as the birth of Jesus unfolded.

-And we had our first ever Ethiopian dinner without any Ethiopians in the kitchen to help!:)Samuel did come in a few times and encourage Michelle and I that it smelled really good, though!:) We made Alecha (cabbage, carrots, potatos and onion veggie dish), sega wat (beef "stew"), shiro wat (not exactly sure how to describe it :)) and we tried to make Ethiopian lentils for the first time with a recipe off of the internet...we were not too impressed with the result...but Samuel and Caleb seemed to be! All in all, it was a valiant first effort and I feel a little bit more comfortable trying it all by myself next time! Everyone ate the meal...including my Dad...which I know was very "stretching" for him and blessed all of our hearts! My kids sure have a wonderful Papa!

-I don't know about you, but one of my most special memories each Christmas Day was getting up and seeing all the presents finally under the tree and our stockings laid out. What was special to me then has been replaced by other special moments...but I have 6 kids who I know will light up to see it all in front of them tomorrow out it all came and under the tree it went! Can't wait to celebrate!!!

"Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day...a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:10-11

Monday, December 28, 2009

An Impromptu Photo Op!

When everyone got home from church today, my brother asked if I could take a few pictures of him with the kids! He didn't have to twist my arm to do so :) and I was tickled with how the pictures turned out so I thought I would share them with you! I look at my dear family and stand in awe at how God handpicked the exact "make up" of our home. The family unit is His design and our family was fashioned before the world began. God says to Jeremiah in 1:5, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you..." and Ephesians 3:14-15 says, "For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named." We were known and named "The Pichura Family" before there was sky or land or birds or trees. I can get lost in the beauty of those truths!!!

And, as I think about God's precious plan as it unfolds in the life of my family I can't help but imagine what it must have been like for Mary. God's plan for her included calling the Savior of the world her SON!!!! Talk about getting lost in the beauty of THAT truth! Yet, with it also came the pain of knowing her son would die...a terrible, painful death for her sins and those of the world. She knew his future and it would create pain in her heart as though a sword was pierced through her very soul (Luke 2:35). Yet, that reality did not keep her from rejoicing and pondering and treasuring in her heart all that took place concerning Jesus.

I have so much to learn from Mary and I am so thankful for her precious testimony. I may not know the number of days the Lord has placed upon each of my children or my husband, but I know the God who gave that number. I know that He does what is best for our family and for His glory. And, because of that, I can echo with Mary, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior" (Luke 1:46) and I rejoice with a full heart to have each and every day to treasure and ponder in my heart the things that take place!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Deck the Halls with Strep Throat!

Yep...that would be me! After we got back from Christmas caroling on Christmas it was downhill from there. I can usually function fairly well even when I do not feel my best...but I was on the couch more than I was off. At my mom's encouragement, I drove down the the ER yesterday (yep...same place I went when I had my appendix removed!) waited a couple of hours, got a culture done and was informed that I did indeed have strep throat. It's a miserable sickness, but also a blessing because, once you get the antibiotic in you, you start to feel better in 24 hours. So, I am hoping by this evening to feel more like myself and praying that no one else in our family comes down with it!

It was a blessing to go to the nursing homes on see the tears in the eyes of a navy veteran (32 years in the navy), the lips of Alzheimer's patients moving in unison with ours as we sang familiar carols and the heartfelt thanks of one woman who rocked back and forth as she sang with us and told me that she loves to praise Jesus.

We also made gyros (yep...the Greek kind!) for dinner. It's a yummy mixture of lamb, beef, onion, garlic and a few other seasonings. You lay it on a pita, add a lot of yummy Tzatziki sauce ( made with yogurt, cucumbers and seasonings...we picked that up at a little Greek store on our way over to Hood River)and maybe a few cucumbers and onions and you have an amazing treat! It was our fist attempt making the meat ourselves...but I know it won't be our last! Sick and all, it was SO good! As we were getting ready to eat, Bryan made an observation. The lamb we were about to eat was a neat reminder of the LAMB of God...Jesus...Who's birthday we were celebrating! I think, one way or another, lamb will be apart of our Christmas celebration from now on.

Paul also joined the group on Saturday and we are looking forward to David and Michelle arriving late tonight after their church's evening service!

Oh...and I just had to throw this picture in for fun! This is what happened when Grace was playing with my hair and had a lot of hairbands right next to her! :)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas today...and every day!!!

We arrived in Hood River this afternoon after what feels like a blur of a week! Monday all our kiddos had their first eye exams. It looks like Faith may be a little near sighted, but, thankfully, it's not to the point of glasses just yet. Everyone else checked out a okay!

Tuesday, we were off to the dentist for routine cleanings.
Wednesday we spent the day celebrating Christmas with some dear friends. The kids had so much fun decorating gingerbread houses and Caleb enjoyed having his own "specially made" graham cracker house to decorate (thanks Mrs. Benedetti!) And, as if they knew we were celebrating...lighted up tractor trailer trucks came honking (and playing Christmas music) down our street! What a special treat!

I sit here typing realizing that it is only a half an hour away from Christmas. Life has been such a whirlwind that it is so hard to believe that Jesus' Birthday Celebration is almost here!!!! I think another reason it still seems "not really" Christmas is because, due to family schedules, we have chosen to celebrate our "traditional" family Christmas next Tuesday when most of our family can be together.

So, my thoughts have been telling me that Christmas is not till next week, even thought the majority of you will be celebrating our Savior's birth tomorrow. And, I guess that is what I am wrestling a little bit with...not "feeling" like it is Christmas. But, Christmas is ultimately not about one specific day, presents, stockings, big breakfasts and other special foods...Christmas is all about CHRIST. And, for the believer, EVERY day should be Christmas, right?! So, I have just as much reason to rejoice and "be merry" tomorrow as I do next week. The King has been born...God incarnate has arrived. My Substitute, the Lamb of God, the ultimate Sacrifice for my sins entered the world and my life now has meaning and hope...not just one day of the year, but EVERY DAY of the year!!!!

Tomorrow, we have the privilege of rejoicing in Christ birth with those that live in a couple of the nursing homes in town. We have heard that, sadly, many spend Christmas apart from family each year. Christmas, to them, must seem to be just like any other day of the year. I am praying that this year will be different. Not because we sing so beautifully, or give out great hugs but because they see a glimpse of Jesus in us and that glimpse causes them to ask for a "reason for the hope that is in us" and that God awakens their heart to His glorious gospel!

Whether that happens tomorrow or not is in the Lord's hands. As for me, I pray that DAILY God awakens my heart anew to the glorious truth of "Immanuel: God with us"....and that Christmas would not be one day of the year but an overflow of every day of the year!!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Packing, Pondering and Purposing

Packing: I officially packed up 20 boxes of "stuff" yesterday,ranging from kitchenware to books to games. It took a really long time, yet you can barely see any of the fruit of my labor as most of it was stored behind cabinets and in drawers. Still, it feels good to have weeded out things and know that I have made a small step that, together with other small steps, will culminate in a packed house by the end of January!:)

Pondering: At one point in my packing process, Samuel started asking me how to spell certain words. I was pretty distracted and did not think much about the words he was asking me to spell as I gave him the letters to write down. It all made perfect sense when I walked into the boy's room to check on the Caleb's bed. Caleb had an "accident" Saturday night and on Sunday Samuel was given the job of making up Caleb's bed once his sheets were cleaned. He went above and beyond and my heart overflowed (not to mention, this is the first real "note" he has ever written):
He got me pondering and God used that pondering to remind me of my purpose...

Purposing: Right now, it's really easy to forget my main purpose. There is so much to distract between thoughts of moving, preparing for Jesus' Birthday and just the day to day managing of a home of 8. Carolyn Mahaney said it this way:

"If we are distracted by projects or pleasure, we may miss valuable teaching moments, opportunities to encourage, disobedience that requires discipline, or a chance to show affection. These moments, once lost, are gone forever."
Even in this extra busy season of my life, my purpose has not changed. It is still to glorify God by loving my husband and my children and being a keeper of my home. But, I'll be honest, the spirit is willing and my flesh is oh so weak. Praise God for His Word and it's life-sustaining truths...for His power that is perfected in my weakness, for His grace that is sufficient in all things...and praise the Lord for godly examples and the wisdom of dear saints who have gone before me. Elisabeth Elliot said the following about her mom and my prayer is that I follow in her footsteps too:

"Called to be a mother, entrusted with the holy task of cooperating with God in shaping the destinies of six people, she knew it was too heavy a burden to carry alone. She did not try. She went to Him whose name is Wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father. She asked His help."

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Too fun to not go back!

I was going through pictures on my computer and realized that I never documented a really fun night that we had on the 6th of December! It was the night we decorated our tree, drank hot cocoa while Dad read us a Christmas story and our kids formed their own band and had fun putting on a concert. I am not sure that anyone not related to them would pay money to go and see them...but I'll give you a "sneak peak" for free!:)


Also, I was wondering if you all might help me out and give me some names of Christmas movies you and your family like to watch around this time of year. There are a lot out there...but I need help figuring out which ones are best...or at least favorites for others! Half of our family is down sick with a cold and somehow the girls have managed to get a fever, too! So some "movie time" may not be such a bad idea after all!