Fill me up, Lord

"You will seek me, & find me when you seek me w/ all your heart," God says. But that is not the whole story. I'm not just a searcher. I'm also a hider. You too. We have to come face-to-face w/ our tendency to hide, to get lost. ~John Ortberg, Love Beyond Reason

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Scrapping My Winter Break

The best part about being on Winter Break, is that you can scrapbook with your friends from 12-9:30pm, and then go home and organize your pictures until 4:30am!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

To all you nay-sayers

This information to all you nay-sayers that scold me for never wearing a coat....

Quick tips to help you avoid catching a cold:

Contrary to what your mother told you, wearing your hat and buttoning your jacket when you go outside won't help you avoid catching a cold.

Keeping your house clean and washing your hands frequently, however, will! Minimizing dust and dirt that you track indoors will help keep your home germ-free, and washing or sanitizing your hands and clothing after being in a public or crowded area (particularly if you are around people who are ill) is the best way to avoid catching a cold.

I cleaned my kitchen today, so there.

Update: just bought gorgeous coat from Ann Taylor;
makes me feel like a lady;
I might actually wear this one!!!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Christmas Blessing & Recommendations

Christmas Blessings to everyone.

May everyone who receives this message be blessed. I would like to suggest to say a prayer before you read the poem. That's all you have to do. There is nothing attached. Prayer is one of the best free gifts we receive. There is no cost but a lot of reward. (Did you pray?) Make sure you pray, and pray believing that God will answer. This is your last opportunity before reading the poem!!! (heehee)

May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received,
and pass on the love that has been given to you....

May you be content knowing you are a child of God...

Let His presence settle into your bones,
and allow your soul the freedom
to sing, dance, praise and love.

It is there for each and every one of us.

We are LOVED!
If you are not feeling loved, I recommend the following:
First of all, let me know, & I will truly hug you through email.
Try to get into a community of people that love & support you. If you cannot find one within a church context, something is wrong -and it might not be you! I would contact the pastor, let him know of the challenge, and have him "hook you up". This could be done anonymously through email. If you like, use only your initials.

Love Beyond Reason by John Ortberg
*This book was personally very transformational in my thinking & being in regard to God's love relationship with us. That He would reach down from heaven, for us! (More good stuffs about this in Changes that Heal by Cloud & Townsend.)

I,II, III John in the New Testament by John the Apostle
(I have a Jewish friend whose Christian husband calls the NT, the "sequel"!)

I'm ready for feedback!
Amazon the following two books & let me know which ones you think I should read 1st:
The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brannon Manning -or-
Unbreakable Bonds by Dr. Paul & Dr. Cheryl Meier

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Maya Angelou

Christians - By Maya Angelou

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not shouting "I'm clean livin'."
I'm whispering "I was lost,
Now I'm found and forgiven."

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I don't speak of this with pride.
I'm confessing that I stumble
and need Christ to be my guide.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not trying to be strong.
I'm professing that I'm weak
And need His strength to carry on.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not bragging of success.
I'm admitting I have failed
And need God to clean my mess.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not claiming to be perfect,
My flaws are far too visible
But, God believes I am worth it.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I still feel the sting of pain.
I have my share of heartaches
So I call upon His name.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not holier than thou,
I'm just a simple sinner
Who received God's good grace, somehow!

Although I have this understanding, I need to hear it again for reinforcement. We need to be humble enough to share this with those who do not have a clear understanding of what it means to be a Christian, so that the myth that Christians think they are "perfect" or "better than others" can be dispelled.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

God Jul!

It's Santa Lucia Day!

Holiday Version of Getting to Know Me!

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? I love hot chocolate, but lately I've been getting sick of it. I also love my skinny tall eggnog lattes from Caribou & Starbucks. But again, I'm getting sick of them. Regular Egg nog? Well, it's so rich & CALORIE/FAT ridden, so I just bought a little bottle of some low-fat variety. SO far, I haven't opened it yet....

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? We don't "do" Santa, but yes, we wrap gifts for each other. However, some years after we have opened them, we place the unwrapped gifts under the tree for awhile, until my mom gets sick of it. :-)

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? When I was little I liked what can only be termed as "a crazy mess". But now I like white lights, or trees where the bottom is green or red & spotlights on wreaths, candles in the window. THIS YEAR.... I've seen PINK Christmas lights, and I SOOO want them!

4. Do you hang mistletoe? No, however, we did at the Rolling Meadows house.

5. When do you put your decorations up? The day after Thanksgiving. It's a long arduous process, but thankfully Mom has "decluttered" her way through about 8 boxes worth of stuff, and now she only has 34i294i293 boxes of decos. Fortunately, I live alone now, so I can put up as few as I like! My roomie put up the tree this year (I hate decorating the tree!), and put some beautiful garland up my staircase banister. Right after Thanksgiving . . . I love the warm, fuzzy feeling of Christmas! Having my Advent wreath out is very important to me. This year I also got an Advent calendar! So fun! My mom also buys me a candle with the #s 1-25 on it, and you burn it 1 day at a time. It's fun.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? I like our Swedish smorgasbord: (Ostkaka -- Swedish cheesecake -not like the American kind at all), Kroppkakor (Boiled potato-dumplings, filled with pork), bundost cheese, baked beans, Swedish meat balls, rice pudding (not a dessert in our family!), limpa, & Grandma's rye bread! NO LUTAFISK OR HERRING!

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? going to Candlelight Carols as a child, singing in many Christmas concerts at church/school/community, celebrating Advent as a family despite my brother & my pyromaniac tendencies

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I remember I was about 3 years old at my grandparents' farm in Iowa, I was sleeping on the bottom trundle bed, and asked my mother to keep the door slightly closed, so that I wouldn't be frightened by Santa looking at me. I never really believed in Santa. That just wasn't our families' "thing". However, now that I think about it, I remember my cousin Brad teasing my brother about "Who do you think Santa Claus really is?", and Dan would angrily retort, "Kris Kringle!".

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? We open all of our Johnson Family gifts on Christmas Eve. (To me, Christmas Eve IS Christmas.) Christmas Day (or shall I say afternoon, as Dan and I are loathe to get up early) we open gifts from Carlson relatives and from each other.

10. What kind of cookies does Santa get set out for him? See above, we don't do that.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? I love LOOKING at snow from inside the house.... It's fun for about 5 SECONDS when my students yell and run to the windows to see the new incoming snow. I dread driving when it is really icy though. Very scary.

12. Can you ice skate? I took lessons as a child, but I never got past "Alpha"! My students laugh because they all take private skating lessons and compete, and of course have passed their way through to Freestyle X!

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? So many dolls, particularly my Ginny doll. I don't really remember beyond that.... My birthday & Christmas gifts run together. I remember I loved getting dried apricots in my stocking every year. OOOOH, I remember my brother, who works at a mall, FOUND $100 worth of Mario Tricocci gift cards, that someone had left on the ground, and gave it to me! SCORE!

14. What's the most important thing about the Holidays for you? being with my family, taking and spending intentional time focusing on the birth of Christ and his redemption and grace for my life, (I have YET to find a good Advent devotional -so I am going through the Gospel of Luke), going to Christmas concerts, baking. And yes.... corn flake cookies that are dyed green with 2 redhots to make it look like holly leaves. Gross, but good.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Fudge brownies with peppermint ice cream, with hot fudge sauce drizzled on it, topped off with a candy cane. (DIVINE!) Also Pepparkaka -(Ginger snap *marketed by Whole Foods as "digestion cookies"!)dipped in coffee!

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Making a "Happy Birthday, Jesus" coffee cake with my Dad.

17. What tops your tree? The past four years.... This obnoxiously-huge star made out of branches that I hauled back from Switzerland. (Did I mention it's obnoxious??) This year my roomie has her stuff on it.

18. Which do you prefer Giving or Receiving? Giving!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! But both are challenging for me. I want to get JUST the right gift for people. It's hard to receive because if I don't like it, I get overwhelmed with decisions of what to do with it. It's hard for me to get rid of stuff. (HOARDING ISSUES!) :-)

19. What is your favorite Christmas Carol? This is embarrassing but it's all that cute little Swedish girl from the 70's: Evie singing "Come on, Ring those Bells!) and "Mary's Little Boy Child". And I just have to say that the 2 volume collection of "An Evening to Remember" by First Call makes me want to vomit. Our church did a contata based on it, and Dad & I had to play it all the time, because we were both singing in it. There were some sappy songs in it! Too funny!

20. Candy Canes! Yuck or Yum? They are okay. This year I am giving my kids Jolly Rancher-flavored ones!

21. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?

22. Favorite Christmas Movie? The Christmas Story ("You'll shoot you're eye out, kid!"), Little Women, and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

23. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes. But, mine is a bit Mormon, because there are 2 Marys.

24. Most annoying thing about this time of year? finding parking

Ok, copy and paste this into the comments box, change all the answers so that they apply to you & post! *see a picture of our family dish! or
*where Grandpa Johnson was from! (& where we visited)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Ordinary Lives

I love this phrase: the “spirituality of the ordinary.”

Monday, December 11, 2006

A note from the gym teacher...

Interesting thing happened in gym class today.

We were doing tumbling with the kindergarten and when one of the lines of students had completed doing their stunts, I noticed a pair of underpants on the mat. The only thing I can think of is that someone went really, really fast down the mat!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

God is our Gatorade

There is a Gatorade commercial right now that says, "IS 'IT' IN YOU????". Well, according to this commercial, most of us don't have it IN US ready to compete. Thus the Gatorade.

But really.... GOD is our Gatorade!
I believe He is the red kind. My favorite is Mountain Ice.

I am not on a spiritual high or valley, rather in the plains-which is okay.

However, I'd like to hike upward a bit.

Which means remaining in HIM, which results in the Holy Spirit unleashing His power. (When did the Holy Ghost go out of being en vogue?) This allows the Holy Spirit to give us vitality, living water, passion, empowerment, etc. Drawing close, allows God to give us the power to demonstrate the fruits of the spirit.

When I think about growing in my relationship with God, I think about spending time with Him through prayer, solitude & reading the Word.
1. Is God accessible only at Starbucks? If so, then I have to pay $3 to talk to Him? Need to find other places, or learn to find God in my own environment. But we really do have our best talks at a coffeeshop.
2. Sometimes I do too much "goal setting" with my devotional time with Him. It can become so legalistic for me. Right now, I have 2 more weeks of small group study, I have an advent booklet I'd like to follow, and I am reading Luke as I am reading through the Gospels this season, and plus LUKE=CHRISTMAS STORY! I need to make sure that I do some, rather than NOTHING. (I get discouraged if I don't do it ALL perfectly, and give up.)

It's not about doing, it's about being. And yet in order to be, we must do some doing.

PS-I saw THE NATIVITY this weekend! It was so, so incredible. Shhh... I cried twice! After viewing it I commented, "I wonder if there is a sequel. What happens next?". My friend replied, "Dear, that's called The Passion of the Christ!" If you ask an obnoxious question, you get an obnoxious answer.

Two final thoughts.....
Robert Mullholand said something to the effect of:
"As Christians we live
FOR God,
And IN the world.

When we ought to live IN God
FOR the world..."

I am so stricken by the connection and relationship between Christmas and Easter, especially when I head Handel's Messiah. The power of Easter is in Christmas. It's not about his birth. It's about having a Redeemer.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Blah, Blah, Blah

I am having my small group come over tomorrow for study (we are doing Ruth) and to celebrate ADVENT. The problem is, I haven't dont this week's study yet. Plus someone is keeping me accountable tomorrow regarding filing all these papers I have, and putting all my mountain of clothes away. I have been procrastinating all day. I am really good at that. It is one of my spiritual gifts, in fact.

Not much else is going on around here. I am looking forward to winter break and being able to drink egg nog lattes all day, and reading books by Caribou Coffee's fire. Sigh. 3 more weeks. It will be fun to see my clients get so excited about the holidays. They are now asking each other, "Are you Christmas or Hannukah?"! Of course, there are a few who are both. (which somehow seems unfair!) :-)

These are the things I have completed while procrastinating over the above assigned tasks:
eat cereal, watched "Americas Next Top Model" marathon, & completed neck stretches