25 December 2010

o come, o come, emmanuel.

o come, o come, emmanuel,
and ransom captive israel
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the son of god appear.

rejoice! rejoice! emmanuel
shall come to thee, o israel.

o come, thou dayspring, come and cheer
our spirits by thine advent here;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
and death’s dark shadows put to flight.

rejoice! rejoice! emmanuel
shall come to thee, o israel.

o come, thou wisdom from on high,
and order all things, far and nigh;
to us the path of knowledge show,
and cause us in her ways to go.

rejoice! rejoice! emmanuel
shall come to thee, o israel.

o come, desire of nations, bind
all peoples in one heart and mind;
bid envy, strife and quarrels cease:
fill the whole world with heaven’s peace.

rejoice! rejoice! emmanuel
shall come to thee, o israel.
my favorite hymn of the holy day. i love how it combines images of christ as dawn, christ as wisdom (gr. "sophia"), christ as messiah and christ as peace.

as for the luminarias, we didn't get to see them this year. next year. a town close by lines their main street with the sand-filled paper bags, which each contain a candle. luminarias (aka farolitos, or "little fires") symbolically guide mary and joseph to bethlehem, and/or help us meditate on the coming of the christ child—the coming of emmanuel. god with us.

image via cjpalmer

24 December 2010

just when you thought it couldn't get any better.


my friend, linda, let me borrow her cactus cookie cutter. originally i stopped at her house to borrow a gingerwoman, as i only have gingermen. though she had none, I FOUND THE CACTUS. YES--*THE* CACTUS. and i fell over. so . . . happy . . .

i also borrowed a horse cookie cutter. this horse is wearing a pendleton blanket. i'm offended if you can't tell.

and it's also very important to make some gingerpeople happy and some gingerpeople sad, in order to accurately reflect the condition of humanity. this is very important. oh, and some must portray surprise. because those are the only three emotions anyone ever feels. ever.

i found a great gingerbread recipe if you'd like to try it. it actually tastes like gingerbread spices, not flour (fall over). and yes, i used white flour (fall over). but i omitted the pepper (stand up straight) because that's just crazy. *smile.* as for the royal icing recipe--yay for raw egg whites! i left out the lemon juice and no one died. (only had limes in the house. after careful consideration, i concluded limes were not lemons. sidenote: limes, avocados and lemons are so dang cheap here! fall over. and i can buy tamales at the gas station. did i mention i love the southwest?)

on a more serious note:

just when you thought it couldn't get any better, jesus came to earth. as a baby. in a dirty barn. to an unwed couple. from a line of sinners. god as human and god as god. i pray you can reflect on the beautiful gift of jesus as you prepare your heart for tomorrow's festivities. and i pray if you haven't yet, that you can experience god's love, grace and salvation. all you have to do is ask jesus to come into your heart. it is very easy. and he'll never say no. no matter what you've done or what has happened. this is very true.

what child is this who, laid to rest

on mary's lap is sleeping?

whom angels greet with anthems sweet,

while shepherds watch are keeping?

this, this is christ the king,

whom shepherds guard and angels sing;

haste, haste, to bring him laud,
the babe, the son of mary.

why lies he in such mean estate,

where ox and ass are feeding?

good christians, fear, for sinners here

the silent word is pleading.

nails, spear shall pierce him through,

the cross be borne for me, for you.

hail, hail the word made flesh,
the babe, the son of mary.

so bring him incense, gold and myrrh,

come peasant, king to own him;

the king of kings salvation brings,
let loving hearts enthrone him.

raise, raise a song on high,
the virgin sings her lullaby.

joy, joy for christ is born,

the babe, the son of mary.

"madonna and child" by parker fitzgerald and brittany richardson
"madonna and child: the shrimp" by eric gill
1929, wood engraving, 3.51" x 2.53"
"madonna and the pineapple harvesters" by estaba el senhor inigodeloyola
2008-09, oil on canvas
detail from "l'innocence" by william-adolphe bouguereau
1893, oil on canvas, 20.67" x 3' 3.37"
"madonna of the lilies" by william-adolphe bouguereas
"madonna and child of soweto" by larry scully
"madonna and child" by marianne stokes
1907-1908, tempera on panel, 80 x 59.5 cm
"apache virgin & child" by fr. john giuliani

18 December 2010


oh, i've wanted forever to see saguaro cacti. i had no idea i would get to see them so soon. ben and i had to travel to phoenix for his seminary stuff. of course, our first thought is to scope out all the nat'l parks along the way. does it matter that the entire 16-hour round trip, including his time in phoenix, has to be completed in 48 hours? no. nature is always worth it. especially saguaro cacti. oh my goodness. if anything, they are worth it. i still can't believe i got to see them. i don't know what it is with me and the desert. i just go crazy. i love it i love it i love it i love it i love it

you see, i thought the only place i could see saguaro cacti was at organ pipe cactus nat'l monument, in southwest arizona. in my head, the organ pipe catcus = the saguaro cactus. um, wrong. after extensive research, i realized that the saguaro catcus was really the saguaro cactus (this is highly developed thinking). and, while scoping out nps.gov for all the goodies near tucson/phoenix, i realized I COULD SEE THEM ON THIS TRIP.

basically, i fell over.

while we'll maybe go there again (are you JOKING? it's now in my OFFICIAL TOP THREE FAVORITE NAT'L PARKS OF ALL TIME along with joshua tree and death valley. of COURSE we're going back!) but on this visit, i really really really really wanted a "saguaro backlit by the sunset" shot. you know—that iconic southwest photo.

but it was mostly clear. so no crazy sunset colors. just an average backlit saguaro. i actually like my ansel adams-y b&w better (see lead photo). but something else very very special happened . . .


yes. crazy. true.

we were on a short nature trail when ben and i realized what was happening.

the moon was rising between two hills just as the sun was slinking behind two others. each hill/mountain was exactly 180 degrees apart. we were flipping our heads back and forth like at a tennis match.

as the moon rose and cleared the hills, exactly 8 seconds later (ben counted), the sun set.


and very very special.

yeah, we're going back.

11 December 2010

thanksgiving, part deux.

for some, the crowning glory of thanksgiving is the turkey. for me, it's cornbread. i love cornbread. but it can't be just any cornbread. it HAS TO BE this recipe. taken from the back of an ARGO corn meal box and altered a tad. (does ARGO even make corn meal anymore? haven't seen it in forever.)

sweet family cornbread

1 C yellow corn meal
1 C flour
1/4 C white sugar
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
1/3 C extra light (in flavor) olive oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 C unsweetened almond milk (such as almond breeze)

combine corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. combine oil, egg and milk in small bowl; mix well. add milk mixture to flour mixture; stir until blended. pour into greased 8" square glass dish. bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes. serve with butter and honey.

this was the first thanksgiving ben and i made the entire meal by ourselves. can you say AWESOME!? ben did the bird, his favorite carrot casserole, pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes. i did the sweet potatoes (with generous marshmallow topping), the cornbread, a pomegranate and clementine salad, my favorite cherry pie and attempted my FIRST EVER gravy.

the best part? EVERYTHING WORKED OUT BEAUTIFULLY. no smoke alarms, no half-thawed bird, no thin gravy.

i was so happy.

coco even got pan fried gizzards. how fun to finally have a pup to give those parts to.

but we didn't stop there. oh, no. we didn't stop there.

we like thanksgiving food so much we DECIDED TO MAKE IT ALL AGAIN. yup. we bought two birds when they were so cheap. so to save on our grocery bill, all we had to buy for the next two weeks after thanksgiving was . . . more sides! can you say cheap-o yum-o? of course, we are going to eat a few other things during our save money experiment. like omelets.

did i mention i like eggs?

a real heart potato
thanksgiving family portrait

24 November 2010

happiness . . . is a warm puppy.

coco came into our lives saturday, oct 16. ben's parents were visiting when ben's mom looked out the window. who was that little puppy playing with our neighbors dogs? PUPPY?! i've only wanted a puppy for 4.5 years. but with renting, no chance. once we'd moved, i'd been scouring local shelters to no avail. a to-be-determined puppy was my bday present from ben. i *thought* i wanted a chocolate female lab pup. but coco (most likely a mix of german shepherd and chow chow) was love at first sight.

as soon as we heard PUPPY, ben and i rushed outside and immediately (prob not the best idea) scooped her up and cuddled. then we coaxed her inside, we heard it's important that the first time a puppy comes into your home, she does so on her own. we soon fashioned a kennel from an overturned milk crate and plywood. she was just around 1.5 months old. how did this little pup survive outside to find her way to us? where were her sisters and brothers? her mom? dad? we'll never know. but i am convinced God gave us this dog. and i am so thankful for her.

reactions to coco have been crazy! grown men (one a stranger) have squealed, groaned and cooed upon seeing her. our friends from iowa think she's part wolf (unlikely, but sometimes she walks like a bearcub slash linebacker). she's also been bombarded on park hikes by kids and adults. ben and i believe there is something about a puppy that melts people's hearts—including ours.

a woman i met while waiting at the vet seriously choked up when she learned we had rescued coco—she was so thankful a lost puppy had found a good home. i am, too. i pray my pup lives to be 15. how cool to have this dog until i'm 40! whoa.

as for the name, well that was easy. i've known for those same 4.5 years that my next dog would be a coco (or cocoa, depending on if she was chocolate). want to hear an even stranger story? one that makes me even more convinced my dog is from God? yah, i'm crazy—i like to think that after i pray for a puppy, understand that a puppy can't make me truly happy, but God can, that God hears me and cares enough about little things like that to give me a puppy. (plus! i have two grandmothers who are convinced an angel dropped her by our house. you can't argue with grandmas.) so—rewind a few months. ben and i are visiting mescalero last spring for him to interview and for us to check the place out, make sure we want to move here. we are riding in a church van, taking elementary school kids home after a church activity. a college group also happens to be here at the same time as us, on a mission trip. i am sitting in the back of the van. in front of me is a college student and a little girl. the little girl wants the student to draw her a picture of a dog. the little girl also wants the dog to have a dog house, a food bowl and a collar. 'what should the dog's name be?' the student asks. 'cocoa,' the little girl says. now, get this: after the drawing is finished, the little girl turns around and hands me the drawing. 'this is for you,' she says.


ok, stop everything and fall over three times.


however, the little prophet might be angry when she finds out i dropped the A from coco's name. perhaps the fashion designer coco chanel and/or the lack of overt chocolate coloring had something to do with that. maybe.

in any case, i am very blessed and very, VERY happy to have a puppy. charles schultz couldn't have said it any better.

^ the original drawing!!