Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Hope

Merry Christmas!  I sit here in the lights of the Christmas tree enjoying the last few minutes of quiet before the day begins. Oh, it will be filled with joyful ones - excitement over giving and receiving gifts, laughter as games are played and discussions held, thankfulness over the food and, most important, the coffee pot brewing. Well maybe not most important but it is up there. However, my mind goes to why we are celebrating. It is more than just singing Happy Birthday Jesus and making sure to set out the nativity set. It is Hope itself!  The Hope that was promised all the way back in Genesis while Adam and Eve were still figuring out what had just taken place in the garden. The Hope that carried Noah and Abraham and Joshua and Ruth and David and Samuel along with so many others!  The Hope that Mary and Joseph carried from Nazareth to Bethlehem. The Hope that was born that night in a stable and still carries believers now. Hope that God does love us and wants to spend time in fellowship with us. Hope that says yes, you have sinned against me but I offer forgiveness and a way to break those chains. A Hope that says I have already taken care of yesterday, today and tomorrow so trust me. May you celebrate that Hope today in everything that happens and may you still celebrate it tomorrow and the other 364 days of the year! "For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior who is Christ the Lord" Luke 2:11

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Baby Makes Three

We have been a little crazy around here and I hope to post some pictures about it soon.  Tonight, however, we watched The Nativity Story and throughout the movie, I couldn't help thinking about Mary and all that she had to have felt and seen and thought.  Her faith encourages me as the Bible so clearly tells of how she trusted in spite of such impossible, at least in the eyes of humans, news.  I am in awe thinking how God entrusted such a young girl with the care of His son.  It all reminded me of a story I wrote for the local newspaper's Christmas contest 21 years ago while I was pregnant with my first.  I hope you enjoy it!

Baby Makes Three
By June Mahan
December 1994

It was a cool and quiet December night as she climbed back into bed for the third time.  She eased in quietly so not to wake her husband and tried to find a comfortable position.  One was finally found and then the child in her womb moved to find a position in his cramped quarters.  Her thoughts turned to the child as she again began wondering whether it was a boy or girl, what features of her and her husband it had acquired, and when it would arrive to make theirs a family of three. 

         She didn’t have long to wonder as the child was due any time.  She hoped it would not be too close to Christmas as family was meeting at their house to celebrate the birth of their child and another so many years ago.  She thought of the child born long ago and how he didn’t have much: no nursery painted in vivd colors, no crib with matching sheets and a comforter, nor a dresser and closet filled to the brim with beautiful clothes.  No, he only had a manager filled with straw, swaddling clothes, and parents.  The parents, though, could provide the best thing of all and that was love.  In the same way, her child and the one long ago would have much in common.

         She was getting uncomfortable and so it became necessary to find another position.  She moved as easily as possible and then settled back down.  Her mind turned to motherhood and all the feelings she had as she faced it.  There was joy, apprehension, nervousness, happiness, and a million questions.  How had Mary so long ago felt?  She had to travel over a great distance while in the last of her pregnancy, arrive in a town where there was no one she knew, and live in a stable with the animals.  There were no showers to help prepare for the baby, no family to gather in the waiting room and no mother to give advice after the birth.  Surely she had many more questions!  Faith and knowledge that this child was from God must have been Mary’s strength as it would be her own, she thought.

         Her husband stirred beside her and she looked over at his sleeping form.  What a loving and caring man this was, she thought.  He had been so understanding through the pregnancy, helping out as he could, doing the nursery, ooh-ing and aah-ing over all the gifts.  She loved the way he asked about her doctor visits and readily attended childbirth class.  He had made everything so much easier.  Had Joseph been the same way?  At first, it must have been very hard for him to accept the fact that it was an immaculate conception but then he lovingly took Mary as his bride.  Had he done chores for her when she began to tire or her feet began to swell?  Did he worry if she was eating enough?  When the birth began, had he panicked or had he given love and support?  She didn’t know the answer to these questions, but she knew he praised and thanked God for the child that had been provided to show the way.  Her husband also thanked God for the blessing and miracle of the child inside her.

         She felt a pain and wondered if the time had finally arrived.  As she laid waiting for the next one, her heart raced with joy and slowed with apprehension.  Was she really ready for this?  Could she fulfill the needs of this little one coming?  Another pain grabbed her and she knew the time had come.  As she leaned over to awaken her husband, she smiled to herself.  Like the little family long ago made it through with faith in and help from God, so would hers.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

O Christmas Tree

So the turkey has been eaten, time has been spent with family and now it is time to deck the halls.  We decided last year that we might go with a real tree this year.  We were even more excited to find out about a tree farm not far from us where we could actually cut down our own tree.

Since we usually decorate the weekend after Thanksgiving and it is the only day that all of use are together, we decided to head over on Sunday afternoon.  Since Florida has decided not to join in the sport of Winter, it had to be in shorts and short sleeves.  We had a fun time looking for just the right tree.

 Finally the right one, exactly 7 feet tall, was found and we began the task of cutting it down.  We didn't know a little tree could be so strong.  At last, though, it was conquered!

Soon the tree was shaken out, wrapped up and secure on the top of the car.  Gretchen took a moment to take a horse ride.

After we got home and got the tree set up, including attaching it to the wall with fishing line due to the 4 legged furry friend we have in the house now, it was time to put the lights on.  We also discovered it already had a decoration!

Some of the older sisters decided it was time to wrap up their little sister.
Finally, the ornaments were ready to be hung and many laughs were shared while memories were made.  Looks like a new tradition was made while enjoying an old one.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Florida History

Gretchen and I are learning about Florida history this year.  I taught the older girls Florida History probably about 8 or 9 years ago and we had fun visiting different historic areas and such.  This time, I am doing a class at our co-op, so Gretchen is able to do many of the field trips with her friends.

We started out learning about the first inhabitants of Florida and focused on the Timucuans as they were in our area.  A field trip to Fort Caroline allowed us to see what one of their huts looked like.  We got a better look at a Timucuan village when we visited the Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine.

We then moved on to learning about the Spanish and French explorers who came to explore the land. We learned about Ponce DeLeon who claimed Florida first and then Jean Ribault who led the French to establish a foothold here in the Jacksonville area.  Pedro Melendez came along and got rid of the French at Matanzas.  Let's just say the name means slaughter in Spanish. Then came the British for about 20 years and then Florida returned to Spain.  We enjoyed visits to Fort Caroline, Fountain of Youth and Colonial Quarters in St. Augustine to see some of this history.

Then we covered the indian tribe most known in Florida but not one of the originals - the Seminoles.  The Seminoles were actually Creek and other Indian tribes who were pushed into Florida and banded together forming the Seminoles in the early 1700's.  They were also joined by runaway slaves.  3 wars were fought to try and remove them from Florida but in the end, success was not achieved as they still have a presence here and are able to say they are the only tribe in America to not surrender.  Some of the students gave presentations about different areas of Seminole lives.  Gretchen talked about the clans.

We are now up to the time when Florida became a state and was part of the Civil War.  As part of learning that, we took a trip to Kingsley Plantation in north Jacksonville to learn a little of what slavery was like here in Florida.  We found it to be very interesting and Gretchen enjoyed learning more about the family she read about in Treasure of Amelia Island  I found the sea cotton to be very interesting.  It produces some beautiful flowers.  Hmm, wonder if I could grow any here?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Fall Fun!

Living in Florida, we don't really get to experience fall like other parts of the nation but what we do get to do is enjoyed.  On Wednesdays, Gretchen takes baton class at an art center not too far from our house.  This past week, she could dress up for class so we decided on a kitty cat because she could still move easily in the costume.  I think she made for an adorable one!

Thursday brought a field trip to a local, well somewhat local, corn maze.  The trip had been set up through an on-line homeschooling group but Gretchen and I didn't really know anyone in the group so we explored the farm together.  We raced on bikes around a track, rode the see-saw together, took the hayride, got lost in the maze and enjoyed lunch on a beautiful but warm day.  

We even visited the greenhouse where we learned about some different ways to do aquaponics growing and the really neat thing was the swimming pool that housed 2000 tilapia fish.  The waste they create is used to provide nutrients for the plants.  These are systems that they take around the world to orphanages to provide food.  Gretchen had a great time feeding the fish and letting them nibble on her finger.

Friday night, we hosted a pumpkin carving party for the youth in our church.  We had 8 other youth show up besides Hannah and Abigail so they spread out on our floor and started carving.  After everyone finished, one was only partially done due to a little more complicated carving, we lined them up outside and then the adults judged the most creative, most unique and an overall winner.  What a joy it was to have a houseful of teenagers!  We hope to do some more get togethers.

The older girls were at a singles get together at our pastor's house carving their own pumpkins.  Gretchen had been invited over to play with the pastor's children so she carved her pumpkin there too.  I love the creativity of everyone.


Hopefully, some actual fall weather will show up here in Florida soon and then we can really have some fun!