Sunday, December 21, 2008

Can You Dig It?

Yes, I can. I've been waiting such a long time. For today...

Que Sarah on holiday. I'll be back next week.

Peace to you...

Saturday, December 20, 2008

In case you're not on the mailing list...

If you're a normal reader you already know all of this, and even if you're an abnormal reader, I'm sure this will be familiar, but I want to share anyway. Is that a crime? Here's the Christmas letter being sent out by the House of Curtis, complete with pictures.
I’m sure you’ve all been waiting with bated breath for the annual CURTIS FAMILY NEWSLETTER! Rest assured, it has arrived. Not much has happened this year, but somehow we’ve managed to stay busy. I’ve read about a million books and Steven has played about a billion video games. Steven preaches the sermons that bring the house down. I struggle to retain my sanity working with the crazies. Same old, same old.

In June, Steve and I played hosts to a certain paper kid named Flat Stanley. Our nephew, Nick had to send Stanley to a relative far away for an adventure (for a school project) and he picked us! It was quite a unique way to get to know our city a little better. He got to taste real Memphis barbecue. He even got to go to a Stanley Cup playoff game! Get it? “Stanley” cup!? Ah, never mind.

In July our church had Vacation Bible School. Though a teensy church, we had 30 kids show up! Thank God that these kids were able to come and learn about our Lord. I was the harried and frazzled director and Steven led the singing (and the motions) and I think he had as much fun as the kids did. The church really came through and worked hard to pull it off. If you’ve ever worked at a VBS before, you know how much goes into it. It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s also incredibly rewarding.

After VBS, Steve and I needed a little break. We headed to Atlanta for some much-needed rest. We spent the next week running like chickens and seeing the sights. That is, every sight. Nothing escaped our scrutiny. We camped, we ate, we rode giant escalators (that would be at the CNN building-an eight-story, freestanding escalator that’s more than a little scary). What more could you want? We were a little smarter this year than last. When we went to Missouri, it was almost unbearably hot so this trip, we were sure to bring along our box fan. We roughed it with our fan, laptop and cell phone in the tent. Yup, real outdoorsy. Well, it was fun.

This year, our family was blessed with a new niece and nephew! Jonathan Philip was born to Philip and Jen this August and we’re looking forward to meeting him very soon. Also, Chris and Amanda had a little girl, London. Steven was able to meet her this summer, but work kept me away. We’re so excited to see all the nieces and nephews. And the parents. And the siblings. Well, we just miss Michigan altogether, how about that?

This December, we celebrated our eighth anniversary. Eight years?! Seems like seven. Really, the time has flown and we are as much in love now as we were on our wedding day. (Awwwwww.) Here’s to 200 more years.
We hope you will pray for us as we press toward the goal. Right now the ultimate goal is GRADUATION!

Peace to you,
Steven and Sarah Curtis

Friday, December 19, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mommy!

My mom gains another year today. It was a little difficult finding a picture of her since she's normally the one behind the camera. And when she is caught in a picture, she's wearing her grandchildren like a blanket. Isn't she lovely? She raised four kids with love and affection and is now a source of joy to five grandkids.

And why not? My mother is the most humble and gentle and loving person I know. Not just to her family, but to everyone who knows her. Her church family knows she can be counted on to do whatever is asked of her, be it small or important, and she often doesn't receive the credit she deserves.

One of my favorite memories is her reading us the "Little House" books before bed each night. She even sang the "Old Dan Tucker" song in it.

Also, she used to sing in the Praise Team at church and I loved when she'd look at me with an upraised eyebrow as if to ask, "How am I doing?" She's got the most beautiful voice.

Here's the best one, though:
Steven and I drove up to Michigan one Thanksgiving without telling our families we were coming. I'll never forget the look on her face when I showed up at the front door. I was wearing sunglasses and my hat and coat and through the distorted glass of the front door window I must have looked like my sister because she greeted me with a "Good morning, Patti!" and then when she realized it was me I got the world's best spine-crunching Mom hug and an enthusiastic "Sarah!" Repeat times five other family members and you get the best Thanksgiving ever.

Happy Birthday, Mommy! You'll never get Christmas wrapping paper from me!


Not only is this my Mommy's birthday, it's my 100TH POST! Kudos to my family for being such excellent blog fodder. Need proof? Click here, here, here, or here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Listen to the Words

I heard this song for the first time ever recently and was moved. It's taken from a poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow after he lost his son in the Civil War and his wife was burned to death when he was unable to save her.

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet their songs repeat
Of peace on earth good will to men

And the bells are ringing
Like a choir they're singing
In my heart I hear them
Peace on earth, good will to men

And in despair I bowed my head
There is no peace on earth I said
For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men

But the bells are ringing
Like a choir singing
Does anybody hear them?
Peace on earth, good will to men

Then rang the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men

Then ringing singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men

And the bells they're ringing
Like a choir they're singing
And with our hearts we'll hear them
Peace on earth, good will to men

Do you hear the bells they're ringing?
The life the angels singing
Open up your heart and hear them
Peace on earth, good will to men

Peace on earth, Peace on earth
Peace on earth, Good will to men

I especially love the stanza that says "God is not dead nor does He sleep." I'm reminded that no matter how unbearable this life seems, no matter how insignificant we feel, God still knows us and loves us.

Aunt Sarah says it better:

"God tells us who we are. He tells us we are unique in the universe. Psalm 139 says he knows our ‘downsitting and uprising.’

It says that he knew me before my birth. Before I was a person, before I gave my first birth cry, God knew me, saw me and was aware of me.

Who am I? Well, I like to read Scientific American. I find articles on astronomy fascinating. Within my lifetime astronomers have learned that the stars we see at night are only from one galaxy out out of many galaxies. And our largest telescopes tell us there are billions of galaxies. And every one of those galaxies can have a billion stars. How many of those stars have solar systems like ours? Our earth is less than a speck of dust in the total of God’s creation.

How can I think of the infiniteness of God? My mind can’t take it all in. I run out of words.

And yet, out of billions and billions of objects and time-years in the universe, there is only one fifth child of Ursula E. MacFarlane and Edward E. Gudschinsky, one named Sarah Caroline Gudschinsky. I am unique in the universe. You are unique in the universe. In all those billions of years, there never was another you and in all the time to come, there will never be another you. You are made by God into a pattern He will never repeat again.

Why on earth, then, am I worried about how I can be somebody? I am somebody, a unique creation of God."

Watch. There's just something about those kids singing "peace on earth."

Monday, December 8, 2008

Wise Men Still Seek Him

So the church is putting on a Christmas play, right? And we were a little short on adults to play some of the parts (like the Wise Men who brought gifts to little Jesus). So sort of jokingly, one of the play workers picked three random men from the congregation and signed them up for the parts.

We had our first run-through yesterday and, lo and behold, they all showed up! I knew two would be agreeable, but the third (we'll call him Mickey, and thank God no one from church knows about this blog, cause Mickey might take offense at being called Mickey) I had just about written off as a lost cause. He is the manliest man I believe I've met! Retired Air Force, this dude has a plane in his garage! He's got a great heart, though, and he sure was a trooper yesterday. I'm just hoping he'll still be gung ho when he sees the costume we've got picked out for him :)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Scrooge? Me?!

I've been away a while, and now here I am with a little rant. I apologize in advance. I'm sure this will be no fun at all to read.

My brothers-in-law have accused me of Scrooginess. Sometimes my hubby accuses me of having a heart that's "two sizes too small."

I think they think it's because I was raised not believing in Santa Claus. You can agree with this practice or not, but one thing I can say is that my parents have never, no not ever, lied to me. We had Christmases filled with family, candlelit church services and caroling.

Just because I get irate if I hear Christmas music at the store before Halloween or am accosted by Christmas trees and mall Santas does not make me a Scrooge.

I also get irate if the Salvation Army bell ringers are deprived of their bells. The Salvation Army gives many people Christmases who would otherwise be forced to treat the holiday like an ordinary day. My grandma was a huge supporter of the Salvation Army and I can't pass a donation bucket without thinking of her (and Uncle John, too, but for a totally different and semi-hilarious reason...story to be told at a later date. Maybe.)

Also, people who gripe over hearing "Merry Christmas." If you don't like it, don't say it back to me. Ignore me. Don't start a petition to have it banned from the world. In my experience, most people don't care if you say it. Most people will smile and say it back. It's something to connect us to strangers, even if only for a moment. Two of my bosses are Hindu and I have a very good friend who is Jewish and none of them have a problem with me celebrating "my" holiday. There must be a small handful of people who want to make life difficult for Christmas-celebrators. Boycotting Nativity scenes, Christmas trees and religious Christmas carols. I don't particularly agree with the history behind Halloween, but I definitely wouldn't presume to boycott the celebration of it.

I'm just sayin...