Family Alive

Brian, Kristine, Analise, and Josiah Toone

Archive for November, 2010

And this is Advent…

28th November 2010

Today starts my favorite time of the year.  Advent… the waiting, the anticipating, the looking forward to the coming King.  I so appreciate growing up in the Lutheran church that celebrated the Sundays of Advent, and now celebrating it daily in the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas with our family is one of my favorite traditions.

I always have high hopes… to be organized and ready when this first Sunday of Advent arrives, to see my family quietly soaking up the Word in the candlelight, to not let this daily tradition get lost in the busyness of the Christmas rush, to let this be a jumpstart for our family devotional time.

And of course, this first Sunday of Advent begins like most, with me scrambling through the boxes in the basement looking for the Advent box. Surely I’ve kept the Advent wreath/candles/devotional in one WELL-MARKED box that’s easy to access, haven’t I?  Every year after Christmas I promise I will… No luck tonight in finding it.

And the “real” Advent in the Toone home begins. Instead of our Advent wreath with 5 candles, I light candles around our Willow Tree nativity scene.  We gather on the couch and talk about hope (the theme for the first Sunday of Advent).  Brian reads 1 Peter 1:3-5 about our blessed hope, some of my favorite verses, and I hope that my 6- and 4-year old will have a lightbulb moment and understand how hoping in Christ is so much greater than hoping in the world.    Analise wiggles and coughs, Josiah plays with sunglasses and can’t sit still next to Brian, and of course, at some point I speak sharply about all the annoying wiggles.  *sigh… grace, grace… * We share what we hope for, and after I share that I hope we’ll all love Jesus more this Christmas, both kids hope for something  from Santa. *another sigh* No sacred quiet meditations and deep spiritual awakenings tonight.  But this is Advent in real life, in my crazy wonderful family.

I hope I’ll be able to find my Advent wreath.  I hope we might have some lightbulb moments this Advent as we remember this Christmas is NOT about us.  I hope that our family will be drawn to this quiet time looking towards our great and glorious Hope. I hope that we’ll put this family time first in the busyness, but I’ll also cloth myself in grace.  And I hope this Advent will turn our family hearts more towards Christ, not just this season, but every day.

***Today one of my favorite, favorite blogs, A Holy Experience, has posted a free Jesse Tree Advent devotional if you subscribe to her daily email (which is AMAZING!!).  A Jesse Tree (please forgive my basic explanation – she does it much better!) is a tree branch with ornaments that all symbolize Christ.  We read the devotional tonight, perfect for young and old alike, and I’m looking forward to getting our Jesse Tree started tomorrow.  The devotional booklet is BEAUTIFUL, and it would make the perfect way to celebrate Advent in your home.  It includes printed ornaments that can be cut out and hung each day.  Hope you’ll choose to enjoy it with us!

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Another Cahaba Lake Adventure

28th November 2010

When we bought our house in 2005 with awesome help and guidance from Patsy Martens, we didn’t realize what a true gem we had found. Walking distance to school, to church, to a dog park, to a grocery store, to a lake with a hiking trail. This is just so unheard of in Birmingham where everything is spread out and the car culture is so deeply ingrained. Today’s adventure was brought to you by a hike, walk, bike, and run through the woods, past the school, past the church, past the fire station, and to the Cahaba Lake hiking trail. See the photos and videos below. Hover over each photo to see a caption.

Dancing on a rock

Riding around the lake on the trails

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A favorite tradition… Operation Christmas Child

22nd November 2010

One of my favorite holiday traditions nearly catches me off-guard every year, because it comes up before Thanksgiving. But we’ve packed a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child every year since Analise was 6 months old.

The shopping trip is always a learning experience, with constant reminders that we’re thinking of another child, not picking out our own gifts. But each year, it gets easier and more fun as the kids get older and start understanding more.

This year, my sweeties carried their boxes in proudly, and we also brought 16 more boxes that my MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group packed, as well. Our drop-off location, one of several in town, had collected 20,000. I was brought to tears imagining the joy and the Great Hope those many boxes will bring to children all over the world. And to think… that’s just a fraction that Samaritan’s Purse will distribute! AMAZING! Be glorified, Lord!

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Joy in the Journey

18th November 2010

I’ve had these thoughts rolling around in my brain for a month or so now… just hardly been on the computer (my phone instead… not conducive to a blog post!).  But the kids are happily – and peacefully! – playing in the tub, and I was just overwhelmed with the moment and thought to come here so I might remember it later.

It’s taken 6 years of mothering, but I think I’m finally to a real place of joy in the journey.  Maybe it’s because we’re getting good sleep, we’re not potty training, the tantrums are scarce, and maybe its that my kids are enjoyable little people instead of a lot of work. Maybe it’s because they’re in school and I have a bit more time to myself. Or maybe it’s that I’ve grown a bit.  But either way, I’m so thankful for where we’re at.  I have always, always loved my kids with an overwhelming love, but it was sometimes (more often than I want to admit!) a battle to find the joy in the mundane and the exhausting task of being needed.  For whatever reason, we’re there.  Been here fora  few months, and I’m so overwhelmed with gratitude.

Analise is a lovely young lady, Josiah is a fun-loving sweet little boy, and thank-you-dear-Lord-for-hearing-my-prayers they even consider themselves friends.  They play together far more often peacefully than not.  Our travels recently have been so fun, full of questions and answers, observations and laughter.  I’m trying hard to imprint the soft little boy hand that still willingly reaches for me onto my heart, and burn Analise’s soft sleeping little girl face into my memory (especially when her bottom bunk is divided by a curtain and Josiah’s on the other end).

Thank you, Lord.  Such gracious gifts.

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