Friday, December 26, 2008

A Simple Christmas

We really wanted to keep Christmas simple this year and I think we did just that. In fact Christmas Day came and went and it almost didn't seem like Christmas. So maybe we made it too simple. Other than the fact that we didn't have to go to work and we had brunch and dinner with our daughter's family and a few friends, the day was pretty much the same as many other days. Hubby and I got up, watched the morning news while enjoying our coffee, and just relaxed. Then we walked across the back porch to Jeannine's house to enjoy a Christmas brunch prepared by them and spent the day relaxing with them and some friends, enjoying the grandchildren, and playing a game. Pretty sweet, I think.

Elvin made dinner; he was in his element enjoying having time to spend in the kitchen creating fabulous food. The house smelled wonderful with the fragrance of roasted marinated pork. And it tasted just as wonderful; he is a fantastic cook! Then we settled in to watch an old favorite, "The Preacher's Wife." This movie is a wonderful reminder of the things that are important in life -- family and relationships. All in all it was a quiet day, relaxing, and laid back.

We didn't put up a lot of decorations, bake a lot of extra cookies, or spend a lot of time fretting about preparations for the day. We didn't do a lot of shopping; we had decided that we didn't need more stuff so we would give the amount usually spent on each other to someone much more needy than us. So we didn't even have the usual gift exchange between the two of us on Christmas morning. Yet, I realized that we had achieved what we hoped to, just a simple Christmas where we could enjoy the simplicity of life together with time to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas - at least on Christmas day.

There's still more Christmas to come; tomorrow we'll celebrate Christmas with our children and grandchildren. Elvin will enjoy cooking up a fabulous dinner and we'll give give a few gifts. But most of all we'll spend time with those we love most.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snowy Thoughts

I hate winter, but I do love to see it snow. How's that for a contradiction? What is it about snow that makes us think of all that is pure and good? Watching the snowflakes fall gently and gracefully from the sky is one of life's unexpected simple pleasures in life. That is, of course, is you don't have to be out driving in it or trying to make a decision of whether or not to close school for the day or call for a delay. But being able to sit inside and look out the window and watch the snow falling is beautiful. The unexpected cancellations make it seem like a holiday, better yet a vacation day. Since they are unplanned, it leaves me feeling like I have a free day to do whatever I want. Since I can't do what I had planned, why not just relax and enjoy the day? It is usually a day that I can be lazy and not feel guilty. I can sit and read a book without being concerned with the work around the house that isn't getting done - after all housework was not on my agenda for that day anyway! it's a day for puttering..., playing..., hot chocolate..., etc. Whatever comes to mind. It's a day for relaxing - at least until one has to start shoveling.

Unfortunately, the snow stops falling and life slowly (or quickly sometimes) returns to normal. And then I am reminded that I really don't like winter. The cold and wet and dampness sets in and very quickly the beautiful white of the new fallen snow turns to the dirty slush or mounds along the sidewalks and streets. The beauty is gone and the harsh reality sets in once again. The things that had been planned suddenly need to be done and the demands of life are once again upon us. But the memory lingers on; for that time, no matter how short, that I watched the falling snow, I rejoiced in the beauty of the falling snow. I allowed time to stand still and relaxed to enjoy it. The snow seems like a special gift from God to allow time for me in a busy schedule.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Lights

This morning my hubby told me he wanted to take me for a drive this evening to look at Christmas lights. I thought it was a great idea and looked forward to it all day. (But then, I always look forward to dates with my sweetie.) So after dinner we set out for a drive around town. But before I can continue I need to interject another story here.

Earlier this week I received an email at work about a little 5 year old girl here in Lititz who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in October and only has a few months to live. She is practically immobile at this point, but her only Christmas wish was to receive lots and lots of cards. Later the same day I got the same email at home from a friend in our home group. Now being a skeptic on internet-related things, I had to check out this story and went to Snopes to check it out. Not only was the story true, but Elvin recognized that he knew the grandparents from his teaching days. Little Hannah had made big news. (For Hannah's story go to As I read her story and the journal entries posted on the mentioned site, I discovered that several fire companies had decided on Monday to get a "few" companies together to take cards to Hannah this evening. As the week wore on more and more companies were planning to attend this event. Today's local paper predicted about 30 trucks would be involved. The event was getting bigger and bigger. The firemen and their trucks were now meeting at Heart of Lancaster and traveling in a convoy to deliver the cards to Hannah.

Now with that background back to my story of our evening of "lights." As we were leaving our house, I mentioned to Elvin that I thought it would be fun to drive out to Hannah's street just to see what was happening. So we did. As we were driving north on Route 501, I realized that we were ahead of the convoy. We continued north and then parked in a parking lot close to Hannah's home. We watched in awe as a procession of more than 100 emergency vehicles traveled east on Newport Rd. to Lititz Area Mennonite School. We learned that due to the overwhelming response, Hannah had been taken there for her special surprise. What a beautiful sight to see - all of these emergency vehicles with flashing red and blue lights in a long convoy for a common purpose. The outpouring of love for this little girl was unbelieveable. The flashing lights on those vehicles spoke "Christmas" more than any other lights we saw throughout the evening. I was reminded once again that Christmas really is about love and caring. The expression of "community" as this county came together for the express purpose of fulfilling this little girl's Christmas wish and supporting her family left me feeling proud to be a part of this community. And I saw the true "lights" of Christmas!

Thursday, December 4, 2008


Thanksgiving is a time for reflecting on the past year. It is the beginning of the holiday season and it seems like from Thanksgiving right through the Christmas season, I spend a lot of time reflecting on the past year. This leads right up to the end of the holiday season and the onset of the new year when all of us typically set goals and hopes for the future. It is probably a good thing to spend time evaluating the past, reflecting on where we have been, and where we are going. Otherwise we might be like the Israelites in the wilderness, aimlessly wandering in circles while waiting for something better to come along.

Reflection and evaluation allows us to make changes and to set realistic goals for those changes. Unfortunately for many the goals we set at New Year's are hastily and unrealistically set. Goals like "I'm going to lose 50 pounds this year; I'm going to exercise an hour a day; or I'm going to get up earlier and spend an hour with the Lord." All worthy goals, but really, if you haven't already been working on this areas, can you really reach those goals?

But if we start with small steps, we can reach those small goals and then we can reach a little bit higher. And isn't that what reflection and evaluation are all about. And so I will spend this month thinking about where I was a year ago and what changes I want to make and how I can realistically reach them. And then come January 1st, I'll set a few new goals for myself.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Somedays I just feel like sharing thoughts - no particular topic, no particular purpose. Just thoughts that ramble through my mind like a brook rambles through the countryside. Hence, the name "Babbling Brook," a blog where I can ramble if I want or write with a purpose. A blog that is not centered about a central theme, such as sharing of family, but one in which I can just share my heart - or not - as the mood strikes.

It's been a busy, but challenging week. I spent three days out of the office serving on an accreditation team for ACSI (Association of Christian School International) at a neighboring preschool. It's always fun to see what other preschools are doing and I always come back with some new ideas. But at the end of the time, it is back to reality, so today was spent back in my own office returning phone calls and sorting through the piles of mail and other miscellaneous papers that accumulated in my three day absence!

One of the things that I have noticed is that no matter where you go or what you do, children are children! They do, say, and act the same whether they are in my preschool classes or the classes of the preschool I visited this week. They are uninhibited; they say and act the same as children their own age everywhere. Four year olds especially are forthright - I am reminded of the little boy who stood on the other side of the bookshelf from me and muttered, "Go away, go away, go away ..." It was obvious he was uncomfortable with a stranger invading his space. Or the little girl who looked at me and said, "why are you here?" Or another with the directness of a small child, "why are you so big?" Because their honest, forthright questions are so candid, we as parents and adults quickly learn to shush them and teach them that some things should be left unsaid. Reminds me the commercial I've seen where the adult quickly stuffs food into the mouth of the child who is honestly speaking his mind. We learn our lessons well; we learn to evade the truth that sometimes needs to be expressed. We learn that there are times to speak and times to be silent. We so quickly lose the simple innocence of the child and conform to the expected norms of society. And I guess that can either be good or bad, depending on your point of view!