Saturday, December 20, 2008

Another Phone Call From ING

Today I got a phone call from a lady at my online bank, ING. At first, I asked if they made a mistake that I had won the essay contest, because the last few days I've been thinking I dreamt it. She laughed and assured me that I had won (see my last post). Then she asked if I would be willing to let them use my audio response to the phone call I received, telling me that I had won. She said she had been listening in on that phone call and it had been recorded. Everyone there was so moved by my response that they wanted to use it in their advertising somehow. I agreed to that, saying that I didn't think I had said anything to offend a relative or anything (a joke, o.k?) But I can't understand why they want to use it - I just cried for, like, most of the conversation, at least that's how it seemed to me.

Todd and I have had the afternoon to discuss this. I won't get paid (I'll sign a waiver for the legal stuff) and I hope they don't distort it in any way. I hope I'm doing the right thing. But since this whole thing is definitely a gift from God, I'll just have to trust that this is o.k. to do.

I also found out today that they had 5400 essays entered! I was shocked! 5400! They chose 500 people out of 5400 and somehow, mine was chosen. There were 6 people from Oregon that won. This is so amazing to me. And it just further confirms that this was God's doing, not mine. I am working hard to keep that pride thing out of this. It was God. Todd says God gave me the words to write and that is true. But to me, it was just God.

Having this to ponder is keeping my mind off the mess my livingroom is in right now. Todd is in the midst of a slew of remodeling ... well, click here if you want to learn more.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Winner Is ...

God is SO good.

Let me start by giving Him all the glory for what He did today.

Back in October, I entered an essay contest with my online bank, ING. They were choosing 500 winners to receive a free mortgage payment in January 2009. The essay was to be 250 words or less, stating why you thought you deserved a free mortgage payment.

I had to enter.

But not for myself. I wrote about my husband, all that he's been through this past year. How I just wanted him to be rewarded somehow for all that has happened to him and how he's pulled through, giving God the credit for sparing his life. And I did it in 249 words. You all know how hard it is for me to say anything in brief.

After entering, I found that I wanted to win so badly it hurt. Every time I thought about it, I prayed for God's will, knowing that there were tons of people that needed this more than we did but also saying I wanted this for Todd, not for me. I prayed a lot.

Today, I received an unexpected phone call from "Andrea" (I think), saying that I had been selected as one of the winners. I totally broke down and cried. She was so sweet. I told her much of what I've written here and the phone call was very emotional. Thank you's and Christmas greetings were exchanged and I praised ING bank for always being helpful and courteous. I LOVE this bank!

My praise goes completely to God. I am so, so thankful that He considered my prayer and answered like He did. I am humbled. I won for Todd but only by God's grace. I give Him all the glory.

I am so excited! It's been an emotional day. I kept crying, whenever I thought about the phone call. I called my mom. I hugged my kids. Todd's reaction? "Good job, honey." And then, of course, he said, "I guess they only had 499 other entries, right?" Right. Thanks sweetie!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Advent - Week 2

We've just started our second week of Advent - oh, how I wish I would have grown up with this nightly tradition! Ours is a simple routine but the kids really enjoy it and look forward to it each evening. So do I.

After dinner, the table is cleared and the Advent wreath put in the middle. Someone turns out all the lights but a small one (for me to read by). Chad lights the candle(s) and I have everyone quiet down. Then I pray for God's blessing on our time together. The rule is this: After I pray, there are to be no more jokes or disagreements. One child got sent to their room last night for breaking this rule and missed out on a turn at blowing out a candle (they have to learn!) Anyway, after I pray, I read the scripture meant for that night. Then we discuss the scripture and questions are answered (this year, there have been a lot of questions) and we do further research if necessary to satisfy their inquiries. Then we sing. Chad now plays the piano for us (it was his choice to do this and it's been wonderful). We each get to choose a song and fortunately we have a song book to help us out. You'd think after all these years, I'd remember all the words to time-honored Christmas carols but my mind is getting older. And this year, Carmen is singing with us! Every song, too! All these years, she has been either silent during this time or whispers. Not this year! It is so, so sweet to watch and listen to my kids sing with me. I try to sing quietly so I can hear them. Oh, how I wish I could record these evenings but they won't have it! They said I'll just have to record them in my mind (and my heart - and I will!) For the song, "Away In The Manger", we made up hand motions to go with the words and this is the one song that Carmen has always enjoyed participating in. I well remember her tiny little arms folded and rocking back and forth, to mimic rocking the Little Lord Jesus. She still looks just as sweet when we sing that song.

So, after we finish singing, we turn out all the lights and blow out the candle(s), taking turns nightly. We try to remain silent until the candle glow is completely dark. We usually end up laughing. Then the younger kids pick out a Christmas story for me to read. For many years, I would buy a new Christmas story book each season but now we have enough for a week's worth of reading. The kids don't mind having a story repeated because they know this is the only time they'll hear them. Chad doesn't always hang around for the story (at 13, he knows the stories by heart, I'm sure!) but I love it when he stays to listen.

All this takes anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour, depending on how much talk the scripture inspires. Last night, the questions flew: "What's Deuteronomy mean?" "What does the word 'Messiah' mean?" etc. They really make me work sometimes but isn't it great? I learn a lot, too.

The scripture verses I read are from an article I cut out years ago from a "Focus On The Family" magazine but the same verses are available from a website I was on the other day. We don't do crafts or food as part of our tradition but I know other families do. That's what a family tradition is all about - each family celebrates things a little differently.

I think this is my favorite part of Christmas - seriously. I know one day this tradition will end but I don't want to think about that. I want to remember these nights for the rest of my life.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Good Morning, Todd - How About Some Emerson?

For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson

(My sweet husband wanted something new to read!)