Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Good times and hard times at Christmas

Hi everyone, I hope you had a very nice Christmas. Now that I am back to work, the question everyone asks is, "How was your Christmas?" I don't know how to answer them. If it is just in passing, I say, "It was good," but if I have more time and feel led, I share a bit more. Because the truth is, Christmas WAS good. But it was also hard this year.

The main reason is because of my grandfather. We lovingly refer to him as "Pop-Pop". And Pop-Pop is not doing well. He is 85 (I think) and his health is quickly deteriorating. It has been bad the past three years, but I noticed it especially this Christmas. He struggles with all sorts of health issues: Parkinson's, depression, he has fallen three times this year and broken something everytime. He just fell last week and broke his arm and is now in a wheelchair. He can't talk, he just mumbles so I can't understand him.

This is hard, you guys. If any of you have had grandparents like this, you know what it is like. I love him so much and it is so hard for me to see him like this. He poor body is failing. I feel like he is on the brink, if that makes any sense. I got to sit with him on the couch Christmas afternoon and that's all we did. Just sat. I had my arm around him and told him I loved him and just sat in his presence. I could see his face twisting up in pain as he tried to get comfortable. I remember looking into his face and just thinking, "Oh Lord...please take him home soon." I want him to be in heaven where he will no longer have pain or suffering and will get to be with JESUS! It will be hard when he is gone because we will all miss him, but I feel like it is harder for me now...watching him struggle just to survive.

So, that kind of occupied my thoughts this Christmas. My family is wonderful though. Everyone was taking care of him, loving on him, making sure he was included in everything. On Christmas Eve we always go to the grandparents' house for dinner and singing. They wheeled him in to where we were singing "O Come All Ye Faithful" and I watched him mouthing the words with his eyes closed. I was so blessed by that. Although he couldn't sing the song like he once could, he still knew the words.

I will share one fun story before I close up. Everytime I think of it, it brings a huge smile to my face. This happened Christmas Eve at the service at my old church. All my relatives and I took up a whole row (towards the front of the sanctuary) and my cousin Jeremy (who is 5) decided he was going to go from lap to lap down the whole row. Now, my old church is a very big Presbyterian church. You sit and stand when they tell ya and there's not a lot of noise between things. It's pretty formal, I guess you could say. So, the pastor is praying and Jeremy is climbing from person to person. We're half listening to the pastor and half wondering why the heck his mom is letting him do this during PRAYER and it comes to be my turn. He climbs to me and then starts to climb over to my mom. His bottom is totally in my face. And then, JUST after the pastor finishes his prayer, Jeremy lets out the LOUDEST TOOT ever!!!! I mean, our church ceilings are HIGH...that thing echoed like you wouldn't believe. I was so shocked, I fully jumped in my seat. Then, my sister Liz and I were dying, shaking with silent laughter, trying to NOT seem immature but HOW COULD WE NOT?!?! The timing could not have been more perfect.

At home after the service, all my other relatives commented how not only did they all hear it, but the whole church probably did as well. My cousin Chrissy's husband (Mark) said, and I quote (pardon the language): "It was like the angry war cry of a turd." To make the story even better, we found out later from my aunt and uncle that he actually POOPED his pants when he tooted! I mean, that's how bad it was, friends!!

Gosh, I love my family. Through the good times and the hard times.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

My favorite Christmas song

My favorite Christmas song is not a Christmas carol. It is a song by a Christian songwriter, singer, and musician: Chris Rice. The song is called "Welcome to our World". My mom is a huge Chris Rice fan so I remember going home a few Christmases ago and hearing this song coming out of her CD player. The words were so powerful to me. I had to hear it again and again. Still to this day, I hear him sing the words and they capture me. I am sombered by the rememberance of what Christmas is really about. Since then, I have to hear this song every year at Christmastime. It is my fav. Here are the words:


Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
You've been promised, we've been waiting
Welcome Holy Child
Welcome Holy Child

Hope that you don't mind our manger
How I wish we would have known
But long-awaited Holy Stranger
Make Yourself at home
Please make Yourself at home

Bring Your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
Word now breaking Heaven's silence
Welcome to our world
Welcome to our world

Fragile finger sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born
Unto us is born

So wrap our injured flesh around You
Breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sin and make us holy
Perfect Son of God
Perfect Son of God

Welcome to our world

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Love, Sarah

Saturday, December 17, 2005

My gift...

I got cement.


I am not kidding. I saw a really big box wrapped up all nicely with sparkly red paper. "I'll go for that one!" I thought. When it was my turn, I went over and realized it was REALLY heavy. Hmmm....I started ripping open the paper and then the box. Faster, faster...what's inside!?!?!?!?

An OPEN bag of cement.

Mike Murrow - next year you shall bring a REALLY nice gift to compensate for that one, ummkay? =)

The party was fun.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

White Elephant Gift Exchange

This Friday night, our house is throwing our 4th annual White Elephant Gift Exchange party. It will be fun. Please come if you're in the area. I wonder what I'll get? The previous years have provided me with a much needed N*SYNC calendar, 600 colored cotton balls, Imodium AD and cinnamon spray for bathroom use, and a Homestarrunner beanie. (That one was actually a good one!) The choices are endless. Who will bring what? What do I deem worthy to give to a friend? What will we end up with when it's over? Ah, the joy of giving.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Dang you, My Space!!!

I can't believe it. I have become "one of them". I have done something I said I would not do. I have a My Space account!

I used to make fun of My Space. It used to be a joke. Like I'd play dumb: "What's My Space?" when everyone, their mom, and their dog was obsessed with checking their accounts every other minute of the day. It became very clear to me this past summer at Pondy that young people (esp. high school and college-agers) have gotten into this phenomenon and have no intention of stopping the insanity. So, I was like, "Well, I'M not going to get an account. I'm going to stand strong!!"


That was then. With my new job working with college students, my boss said I should get an account to see what the students are dealing with. He was actually ENCOURAGING me to get one! I gave a pitiful argument why I should stay strong, it's the principle of the thing, etc, but all my reasons seemed lame. He's right. Students put stuff on their My Space that they would never say to me or anyone else in person. It lets us into their world.

So, last week...I caved. I joined the cult. I do it reluctantly, though. Althought it is very eye-opening for me to see my students' issues and struggles, I wish there was another way. The internet seems so impersonal. But if this is how our world is doing things now, I better jump on the bandwagon. DANG YOU, MY SPACE!!

(hey, wanna be "Friends"?)

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Ciao Bella!

Hello friends! I am back from the lovely country of Italy and have fully recovered after jet lag, time changes, and adjusting to work (after being on vacation for 10 days).

So, where do I begin? It was a RAD trip. Rad. We had such a great time. I will try and summarize as best as I can. Well, we first flew into Turin (or as they call it: Torino) and my youngest sis, Emily, met us at the airport. We stayed in this cute apartment with a kitchen so we could cook a lot of our own meals. Turin is right below France and Switzerland in northern Italy so on a clear day you could totally see the Alps. Because Turin is not a "tourist" city, no one knows any English which I thought was great. Refreshing. Authentic Italians!! =) Emily has been taking Italian for 3 months and is pretty much fluent so it was so fun listening to her speak with people.

The Winter Olympics in February will be taking place in Torino, so it was fun to walk around the city and see all the preparations taking place. We saw the main piazza where they will hold opening ceremonies. They are trying to make it look all nice with flowers and benches, etc. but right to the side of the square there is an outdoor vendor selling Orlando Bloom calendars. Gotta love it! I can go across the globe and still find an Orlando Bloom calendar. Er...not that I was LOOKING for one, but...um...moving on.

In Torino, we went to a Cinema museum which is the tallest museum in Europe (you can take an elevator to the top and look all around), visited an English speaking church on Sunday, went to their Egyptian museum (2nd best in the world after Cairo's - I saw a full-on mummy), visited all the cathedrals, and even saw the Shroud of Turin. Basically they say this "shroud" is the cloth Jesus was buried in when he was brought down from the cross. It is kept locked away in this one church but they have a replica out for people to look at and you can see an outline of a man with blood on his forehead, wrists, side, and feet. Even if it's not Jesus, it was really interesting to look at.

After 3 or 4 days in Turin, we took a train to Florence! (Firenze) One of my favorite cities in the entire world! I love love love Firenze. We did so much there. We went to the Uffizi gallery and saw art from Botticelli (including the "Birth of Venus" coming out of her clam shell), Michaelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Titian, etc. We indeed ate gelato even though it was FREEZING the whole time we were there and people looked at us like we were crazy, we saw Michaelangelo's David (I could talk forever about how beautiful this statue is), walked to the Ponte Vecchio, went shopping at all the outdoor markets, and on Thanksgiving Day, sisters Liz, Emily, and I climbed 463 steps to get to the top of the Duomo (Dome) Cathedral. So fun!

Things I love about Italy: the people (so friendly), the art (the Renaissance started in Florence), the food!, the little cars (I called them "Urkel cars" like the car Urkel drove on Family Matters) and scooters, the language which sounds so fun to me, the architecture including all the beautiful churches, cathedrals, and castles, the history of Italy, and so much more.

To cap off an already fab trip, we woke up the last morning there...and it was snowing. Snowing in Italy! It was very surreal. We looked out our veranda and saw snow on all the rooftops and on top of the Duomo. What a perfect way to end vacation.

I love my fam. It was so good to be there. I can't wait to go back.