Tag Archives: Christmas

Christmas Melodies

Every-so-often, I find it enjoyable to sit at breakfast and instead of my typical readings, I flip through my Mom’s hymnal. Last week was no exception, as I wanted to read the Christmas songs.

I guess for Christmas hymns especially, since we only sing them one season of the year, I got to thinking that we miss a core part of the message when we don’t sing all the verses. It is very typical just to sing the first and last verses, along with the chorus. Likewise, there are so many melodies of Christmas that go unnoticed–carols we don’t typically sing that also share so much meaning in light of the Christmas Spirit.

As Christmas Day continues to approach, rejoice in life with the melodies of the season!

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!’

Luke 2:13-14 ESV





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In all things…

This is what I wish my attitude resembled towards this year’s winter weather: “I like snow! It is pretty and this morning I woke up early to yet more fluttering flakes dropping from the sky. Snow makes the earth cheerful and bright. Almost makes me want to sing Irving Berlin’s song, ‘Snow’ as performed in the classic movie White Christmas.

Sounds pretty enthusiastic, doesn’t it? Well, allow me to show you my honest feelings towards winter this year:

Grumpy Cat kulfoto.com

Yep. This is just about it.

I have been grumpy towards this winter. The weather makes me even more dependent: In reality, it is not all the weather–it’s me…my health. The weather doesn’t help it any and the conditions surrounding daily activities, but I need something to blame. So, I have chosen the weather.

I get stuck in my winter jacket and can’t get my seatbelt on because of that fact. I blurt out, “NOT A FAN!!” And feel more like a little kid because someone buckles it for me. Maybe that is why this winter is bugging me. The more my health declines, the more I physically feel old yet like a live like a child. I struggle putting on my socks and boots; I can’t zip my winter jacket; I was only able to get out on my own once last week for an errand to Wal Mart, because most of the snow and ice had melted from the parking lots. The next day, it snowed again. Basically, I can’t go outside on my own. I can, but even with my walker, it is just difficult. Not to mention, a little dangerous with the ice. I fear falling.

There it is: winter is like fear. I think it’s the darkness…which is why I like Christmas lights. Light penetrates the darkness. Light brings joy.

Yesterday at church, the message was from James 1:2-4:

Count it all joy, my brothers,  when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

“Trials of various kinds”–I seem to be feeling the weight of these words this winter. And I have tried to remain in Joy. It’s hard. In those moments of trying to live on my own, I find that my own joy is not equivalent to God’s Joy. At Christmas, we celebrate and remember the joy of a Savior born. Jesus, his life and death and resurrection, conquered fear and death. If it is conquered, then why do I fear the road ahead? Uncertainty is darkness…but being certain of my future in God’s hands is light. And although it doesn’t make my current physical living conditions any easier, I can depend on God like a child. I am His child. And I can find Joy in all things…

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Colossians 1:11-14


Filed under Adjusting to NF2

Mel’s Twelve Memories of Christmas

Today is December 12th. It is not a significant date for me personally, but it does remind me of the song, “The 12 Days of Christmas.” I am sure you all have heard this melody. One of my favorite versions of this song is actually an ice skating performance by Olympic medalist, Scott Hamilton. I was obviously too young to remember watching this on television, but Mom taped to VHS the 1990 Disney’s Christmas on Ice performance that year. We watched it probably every year growing up, as ice skating was a something our family enjoyed…not only watching during the Winter Olympics, but also trying our own talents on the frozen pond out in the field. Let’s just say, I never landed that “Double Triple Axel.” 😉

Pulling out the Christmas DVDs and VHS tapes last week, I found this recording. Exciting! Even better is that captions played too. I was shocked! In watching some of the performances, I got to travelling down memory lane and complied some of my favorite Christmas memories:

12. Caroling: Whether it was with the youth group (the van rides were memories in themselves), my family (we sang at the nursing home), or friends in Denver (we went around the neighborhood, to the fire station, and then sang at the town square by the lighted tree in Arvada)–singing carols and giving baskets of fruit was something I always looked forward to each year.

11. Family ski trips at Wolf Creek: It’s true–


10. Handel’s Messiah: Last December, we attended a performance at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Dayton. It was just the orchestra and the four soloists: a soprano, mezzo-soprano, tenor and baritone. Beautiful. If you’ve never listened to the entire oratorio, I recommend it.

9. Coming home for Christmas breaks in college and on Christmas Eve (post-grad): The song, “I’ll be Home for Christmas” took somewhat a literal meaning.

8. Calling the grandparents: It was really sad when my hearing no longer permitted me to talk to my grandparents at the same time as my family. (I had to call separate using the internet captel.) But that won’t be the case this year!!

7. I am not sure where the tradition started, but after the Christmas Eve service, we drove around town to see Christmas lights, then came home to watch Jim Henson’s Muppet Christmas Carol. When it finished, we sang Christmas carols by the lighted tree.

6. The gingerbread candle family: When I was about 7 or 8, Mom purchased a candle making kit and we made gingerbread candles for Christmas. (You would not believe how many years the gingerbread scent lasted!) Since there were four of us sisters, we each took a different mold structure and when they were set as candles, we painted them. Best part is that Mom still has the candles and sets them out each year.


Guess which one is mine–

5. Christmastime by Michael W. Smith: It was the most anticipated album of the season!

4. Community performance of the Nutcracker held at Adams State College: It took place every other year and was always very well done! The youngest ballerinas in training made the cutest mice…how could the Mouse King be intimidating after being associated with them?

3. Decorating my room with Marcia: Sharing a room meant sharing the fun in decorating for the holiday. When we finished, we liked to fall asleep with the Christmas lights twinkling throughout the room.

2. Dad’s French toast: Christmas brunch! Bonus, we got “cutie”-sized oranges in our stockings.

1. “The Little Drummer Boy,” Whiteheart version: 1993. Pure rock, drums…best ever.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions or memories?


Filed under Family Times, Funny Stories, Random, Uncategorized

It’s different this year…

I knew it would be, but I didn’t think it would be so hard. I think it started when thoughts became reality: this would be the first Christmas in which I would hear no music. Earlier this summer when I gave my cd’s away, the facts were there, but not the season. I am glad I gave when I did…but now it is starting to settle in–Christmas in Silence. Oh, believe me, I sing in my head like a 24 hour radio station, but it’s not quite the same.

There is still joy in the start of December. I am just navigating my way around some “lumps of coal:” some ‘differences’ between Christmas present and Christmas pasts.

Eleven years ago, my Christmas season was not so ordinary either. Between my diagnosis on November 18, 2002 to my first major surgery December 18, 2002–I had missed most of school but still completed my assignments, sat for hours in waiting rooms and bright-colored hospital rooms at Denver Children’s in which I met a whole team of doctors that talked to me about everything that I did not even grasp or understand and still tried to do fun seasonal traditions with my youth group and family.

Then I had my surgery. I think my biggest worry was thinking I would not make it home in time for Christmas. Like I said, I did not (at that point) fathom the seriousness of the surgery and its possible effects nor even living the rest of my life with this disease. I cried more about missing school than fearful emotions (nerd, I know.) The day of the surgery, my pastor and his wife joined my parents and myself in the waiting area. They had brought some gifts from their boys and the youth group. One was a stuffed chicken that played music and danced, “The Chicken Dance” song. For some strange reason this was huge for us back then.

At first, it was just us in the room. Then a couple and a with a small boy, maybe aged 4, joined us. Making casual conversation, they told us that the boy’s name was Gabriel. That is all I know, but I can still see his face when we showed him the dancing chicken. It was silent joy of the season. I saw him a few days later when my sister and I went downstairs to do the craft of the day. Gabriel’s dad was pulling him in a red wagon; my sister was pushing me in a wheelchair.

The craft was a folded photo book. They had loads of Christmas stickers and markers. I just used stickers. I still have the little booklet; It holds five of my favorite pictures from that hospital experience. And I was discharged on Christmas Eve.

scan0001 Note: the reindeer antler headband!

Present day–my handwriting is down to minimal use. My few Thanksgiving cards were simple (I liked it that way.) I knew my Christmas cards would have to be too. Wanting a different but fun greeting card to accompany my picture and “<3 Mel” signature, I decided on stickers. I got twelve cards done and noted how it was like a OT exercise to my fingers. I cried because on a card I messed up my signature and smiley face so bad I was going to throw it away. Mom and Dad said I should still send it. It is not about my signature, smiley face or stickers–it is about bringing joy to my family and friends this season. I need to focus my own joy on that aspect as I finish my cards this week.

It’s only December 1st. I don’t think gratitude should be limited to the month of November. I have much to be thankful for even in the different physical circumstances. Not all is different: Already this upcoming weekend, I have fun holiday events that I plan to attend with my family. Christmas movies have captions and I realized that I can still enjoy the Nutcracker ballet even if I don’t hear the music. Ballet is beautiful. Tis the season for a good cup of peppermint mocha, gingerbread cookies and peanut brittle; carolers, classic Christmas novels by the fireplace, and trees decorated with lights and special ornaments; snow, parties with friends or family, and the times of solitude.

It is the season of giving, the most wonderful time of the year, the joy that is ours in remembering the greatest gift of all:

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6 ESV


Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Family Times, Hospital Trips

Christmas all year long.


Yesterday’s Christmas Eve service was the same as Sunday. Off I went Sunday with my family to their church so I braced myself for a service without interpreters, which I knew. The pastor usually leaves his sermon notes copied off on the table in the foyer, but there were none left when we arrived. I just watched the praise team from the balcony where we sat and read the words to the songs, occasionally hearing the beat of the next stanza so I could try to sing along. The sermon started and I just followed the three main bullet points of the sermon about the particular Advent candle. I had my Bible so I read some passages and found amusement from the boy sitting in front of me trying to figure out where the exact middle of the Bible was–he ended up in the middle of the Psalms. No surprise, I told myself…seems like I had done that myself when I was his age. We took communion and then the praise band did an acoustic version of “O Little Town of Bethlehem.” They sang all the verses–and even though I could hear all the words, I just sat there and listened for most of it. Just letting the words sink in. “O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel.”

Last night was different though the same church, same pastor, same seats. Except this time my attitude was different. In the car, I kept thinking to myself–this is ridiculous! I could just stay at home and read my Bible and sing a few hymns to myself. I felt more like a hypocrite really–wearing my favorite skinny jeans, cute sparkly top and sparkly shoes. Like dressing up for nothing…was what my thoughts were. The songs had no words on the power point; there were no bullet points to the message; and worst of all, I forgot my Bible so I couldn’t even read any passages. I just sat there. My right hearing aid was not right and so I had to take it out; my shoes were bugging me (and my sister told me they were making noise as I was trying to take them off); and I just really wanted to leave. We did not even have candles to hold when they started the song and proceeded with the congregation lighting each others’ candles. The people in front of us turned and realized we had no candles. They offered theirs. Another woman did the same. When all the candles were lit, we sang Silent Night.


In the candle glow, I realized that this is what Christmas should be like–sharing our candles with others so they too have light in their time of need. It brings hope and love and peace. The Light of Christmas isn’t meant to burn out the 26th of December. The message lasts all year.

From my house to yours: Merry Christmas!






Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Family Times, Muffy, Random

The First Day of Winter

I am sitting here in the basement with the Christmas tree in my view, the fireplace is on and it is snowing outside! Yes! Finally! Last year, we had none. Nothing. Coming from Colorado, well, it gets to you. It has been snowing all day. Somewhat sticking, somewhat wet, somewhat blown all around from the wind. But it snowed. 😀 How convenient. On the first day of Winter no less!

I have to admit, I could make up things like excuses for how “busy” things are around here. I could pretend to be bustling with activities that cause me not to be able to write (ok, but I did go Christmas caroling with my church and to a performance of Handel’s Messiah with my parents.) 🙂 In all honesty though, I have not been feeling too well. I have been struggling with some physical things that I can’t discuss at this time. I feel this problem has built over time–most likely from my new medicines–but last week was the highlight of it all. And I felt sick…still do most often, but not at the present moment. Another honest blurb–I am craving a Sprite! I love peppermint tea, but I just am in a need for Sprite! But, because the eye medicine makes pops taste like metal, I cannot. Thus, adding another momentary frustration to a sick stomach feeling. You get the drift.

Not the greatest way to be spending the holidays, but to keep my mind off how I feel I wrote most of my Christmas cards, did some reading, and watched a lot of Christmas movies. Nothing too productive, but I did enjoy watching for the first time the classic film, Christmas in Connecticut. I think it might be one of my new favorite holiday movies! Speaking of movies, I wrote about the book, “52 Little Lessons from It’s a Wonderful Life” when I first started it two weeks ago. What a book! I read a few a day…last week, some days the words would just pop off the page. The little lesson would hit directly home…mostly because I was feeling a lot like George…wanting to do big and great things or travel the world but feeling stuck at home. My family resembled “Clarence.” Just again reminding me that I am not a burden and that it is ok to share my feelings and hurts–because then they understand what I am going through and why some days I am just a tad grumpy.

But I am learning. I am learning to be open, to share. But it will take some time and a re-wiring of the normal thought process my mind usually goes through. Seems like a great time of the year for it…taking time to step back, rewind and think about the joy of the Christmas season.

Music has always helped me rewind. This is from one of my favorite Christmas songs, “Christmastime” by Michael W. Smith, 1998.

Ring Christmas bells
Ring them loud with the message bringing
Peace on the earth
Tidings of good cheer
Come carolers
Come and join with the angels singing
Joy to the world
Christmas time is here again.

P.S. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFq3GJicC78

More to come…

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The color red.

Think of the color red. What comes to mind? I see a bright red, almost like a Delicious apple. I see lipstick. I see STOP signs. These are the first things I think of when I say the word, “red.” Isn’t it interesting to think that we all see different shades of colors? My shade of red is not the same of your shade of red. Not sure where I heard that, but I did once…maybe in a science class. Just another example of how unique each person is. 🙂 (Don’t believe me? Look it up. I just did and found many sites to confirm.) 🙂

Red. Seems to be the infamous color of most major sports teams here in this side of the country. I see red every day at work…I even wear a red shirt. (Of course some have seen their better days. I have a red shirt with pink polka dots on the bottom. I was helping a lady get things out of her cart and did not realize that her Clorox was leaking…or had been leaking her whole shopping trip. The grand finale was all over my red shirt and hands. I was very clean, but the smell gave me a headache. To reduce the white spots, we colored it in with a red magic marker. Genius, but it is now fading with every wash.)

There are different tones of red. Have you ever stopped to see around you the different tones of colors? Red. It can have several different meanings.

Beauty: Male birds such as Cardinals–very bold red! There are also Robins…their chest is a shade of red/orange. The only other red bird that I can pick out in the crowd is named…are you ready for this? It’s named “Purple Finch.” What on earth?!? It is red! I don’t understand that one! But hey, we all see different shades of colors. 😉 I found a website where it names all the birds (primarily the North American birds) that have shades of red. Very interesting. http://www.whatbird.com/browse/objs/all/birds_na_147/110/color/2066/red

Old barns. (Why do farmers paint them red anyway? Is it for a specific purpose or just the classic farm look? Either way, I think they are beautiful to see among the farm-house and equipment.) There are also a lot of red fruits (which happen to be my favorite!) Strawberries, cherries, tomatoes, watermelons, raspberries, cranberries, grapes and apples–each designed in a different shade of red and also flavor.

There is beauty in red when I think of love. There are red hearts and red roses. Just thinking of love made me think of passion. Passion reminded me of lust. Did you know that “lust” is an actual shade of red? I just learned this! Of course in context and definition, love and lust have different connotations. Love, so much more than just Valentine’s Day. C.S. Lewis said,

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket-safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.

There is a beauty in symbolism, such as the USA flag. As Secretary of the Continental Congress, Charles Thompson said, “Red, [signifies] hardiness and valour,” (Duane Streufert. 2005.) There is a red ring within the Olympics five rings (representing the five continents). And of course Christmas. Red and green. There are obvious ones that I am not sure of the meaning. Why is Rudolf’s nose red? Or why does Santa wear a red suit? There are red berries on mistletoe, red strips on candy canes and the wise men gave three gifts to Jesus: Gold, frankincense and myrrh. I thought maybe myrrh was red based, but was not certain until I looked it up. It is. 🙂 I found this site so interesting! http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/life/botany/question2831.htm. And last, when I think of myrrh, I also think of red rocks. I lived near Denver’s Red Rocks amphitheater. Beautiful! There is also the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs and my personal favorite that I hope to see someday: Petra (Mount Hor, Jordan). Truly beautiful!

From: http://www.oddee.com/item_89087.aspx (If you love history and architecture, then read this site. It is about the 10 lost cities.)

Practical uses: STOP signs, which were not always red. In fact there were no such things as stop signs at the beginning of the 20th century. You think seeing a person run a stop sign or run through a red light today is maddening, listen to this:

At a time when there were no driver’s licenses, speed limits or clear lane demarcations, the notion of a stop sign was revolutionary. In fact, aside from the occasional road markers letting riders on horseback know how far they were from the next city, there was no road or street signage at all. (Greenbaum and Rubinstein, December 2011.)

Sounds pretty chaotic! Even when they were put into place they were “a 2-by-2-feet sheet of metal with black lettering on a white background” (Greenbaum and Rubinstein). It wasn’t until 1954 that they turned red. There are other warning signs. I took this picture at an old mill. I thought it was hilarious considering my history of falling and weak ankles:

Fire extinguishers, EXIT signs in buildings, rear lights on automobiles, and flashing lights of police, fire and ambulance vehicles all contain red. People who take pictures like to take out red: reduce red-eye functions. Growing up, we graded papers at school with a red pen. Red helped you see your mistakes. Have you ever read the classic book, The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne? The scarlet letter is an uppercase A attached to Hester’s dress, representing the shame and punishment of adultry. Although I was not a big fan of the book in high school, I would like to read it again realizing that there is so much imagery and symbolism that I might not have understood before. My Bible uses red print in the four Gospels and Acts to show when Jesus speaks. When I paint, I have to be careful; red takes over the other colors. Sometimes the blendings make a deep blend of purple, which helped on my mountain portrait…but other times if I use too much red then it ruins the painting. Likewise in opposite cases, I add red to bring out some flavor of an otherwise dull piece of art. Red is so practical.

What do you see in red? I started out with a short hand written list. The more I thought of the color, the more came to my mind. Take time this weekend to enjoy your favorite colors, whether it is red or another. Red is not necessarily my favorite color, but it was a great place to start (it is the first color of the rainbow you know–at least from top to bottom. I learned it as ROY G BIV. Others learned it the opposite way with violet starting, VIB G YOR. Makes more sense to me the first way.) 😀 More to come…


C.S. Lewis. http://thinkexist.com/quotes/c.s._lewis/

Duane Streufert. 2005, February 10. What Do the Colors of the Flag Mean? The Flag of the United States of Amercia. Retrieved April 20, 2012 from http://www.usflag.org/colors.html

Hilary Greenbaum and Dana Rubinstein. 2011, December 9. The Stop Sign Wasn’t Always Red. The New York Times. Retrieved April 20, 2012 from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/11/magazine/stop-sign.html

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