Saturday, December 25, 2010

Day 452-8: I celebrate

This is my prayer...far beyond Christmas, well into 2011.

With this Christmas wish is missed
The point I could convey
If only I could find the words to say to let you know
How much you've touched my life because
Here is where you're finding me
In the exact same place as New Years Eve
And from the lack of my persistency
We're less than half as close as I wanna be

And the first time that you opened your eyes
Did you realise that you would be my Saviour
And the first breath that left your lips
Did you know that it would change this world forever
And the first time that you opened your eyes
Did you realise that you would be my Saviour
And the first breath that left your lips
Did you know that it would change this world forever

And so this Christmas I'll compare
The things I've felt in prior years
To what this midnight made so clear
That you have come to meet me here

To look back
And think that
This baby would one day save me
And the hope that
That you give
That you were born so I might really live
To look back
And think that
This baby would one day save me…

And the first time that you opened your eyes
Did you realise that you would be my Saviour
And the first breath that left your lips
Did you know that it would change this world forever
And the first time that you opened your eyes
Did you realise that you would be my Saviour
And the first breath that left your lips
Did you know that it would change this world forever

And I
I celebrate the day
That you were born to die
So I could one day
Pray for you to save my life
Pray for you to save my life
Pray for you to save my life

- Relient K

Our First Christmas

I started to blog about the top moments of Christmas so far...but there are too many. Maybe I will do that later. It has been picture perfect. But, I am reminded, that is not what it is all about. Jesus entered our rough, broken, imperfect world. So I can come before Him in any way, in any condition. He is my present this Christmas.

Below is my Christmas prayer. This is what I meant to say last night during our family worship at 2nd Pres. I think I remembered most of it. But I was so in love with how our kids literally entered into Jesus's story during the live nativity, that I don't even remember what I said.

Father God,

We praise You for the gift of our Children,
May we always cherish them.

We praise You for time with our family, our friends, and our church,
May we savor it.

We praise You for the truth of the Christmas story,
May we believe it with our whole hearts and let it transform our lives.

Most of all, we praise You for the gift of your Son,
That we don't just hear or read the Christmas story,
But just like every child in the live nativity gathers on the altar around the manger,
We too are invited to come.
To live with Jesus.

We are a part of the Christmas story!

Let us know Him as our Savior and as our Lord,
And let that change our lives forever.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Quote of the Season

"There is not a square inch
in the whole domain of our human existence
over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all,
does not cry: 'Mine!'"
- Abraham Kuyper

With all the wonderful things of this year and this Christmas, I feel like I have it all. But it is His. I am reminded that our Lord is the center of the story. And He loves me so much, that he invites me in.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Day 428: DIY Weddings

"“I think people think if you want to do a lot yourself and have a big wedding, you have to be engaged for long.” - me!
Yes, that is right. I was quoted today in the Knoxville News Senteniel's article on Do It Yourself weddings. I harding feel like the DIY bride of the year. But, I did have the DIY Mother of the Bride of the year.
" 'I had a bunch of websites that I stalked,' Landon said of her inspiration."

Below is the full story. or

Mollie Lacher married her husband, Joe, on Oct. 16 at the Maple Grove Inn in West Knoxville, and during their yearlong engagement, she got crafty. “I knew I wanted something one-of-a-kind,” she said. Lacher is creative, she said, and she wanted to do a lot herself to stay within her budget. “I had my hand in everything,” she said.

Allison Sprouse of The Modern Hostess, a local event designing company, believes DIY weddings have become more common within the past few years. “I think it’s a mixture of the recession,” she said. “And I think a part of it is with blogs.” Sprouse believes brides have more access now because they can see what other brides are doing and get ideas on blogs. “There are great things to be DIY and be thrifty and creative – Save the Dates, programs, favors,” she said.

Local photographer Carrie Jo Pinckard of Texture Photographics agreed. “I have seen a big change in brides desiring their fingerprint on everything,” she said. And the DIY trend helps those brides reflect their style and personality, and it can even include people they love, she said. “It’s so much fun to arrive on a wedding day and feel like you know a couple so much more just by the location they chose and the way the bride so uniquely decorated it,” she said.

And Lacher was one of the DIY brides. She helped design Save the Dates, invitations and programs, and she said along the way, she continued to find more fun DIY ideas to help save money and express her style. “Things that I couldn’t knock down cost-wise were like menu, food, band … so that left décor.”

She collected jars, vases and burlap from Joann Fabrics & Crafts, Hobby Lobby, Southern Market and Home Goods to create reception centerpieces. “I did burlap table runners,” she explained, sewing buttons and weaving teal ribbon through them. She had a friend cut down a tree to make, what she called, “tree trays,” which she then put various vases and jars to hold candles and flowers. She and Joe also created mason jar chandeliers, she said. She gathered mason jars and tinted them blue for an antique look before Joe attached them to wooden boards and hung them from the ceiling. Lacher admitted she loves ice cream, so instead of the traditional wedding cake, she and her mother created an ice cream bar, gathering varieties of ice cream and toppings for guests to enjoy. Her friend Carolyn Coley added to the reception by making a variety of cupcakes. And for wedding favors, Lacher had her family help her make peach preserves.

For new bride Katie Fitch of West Knoxville, a lot of her DIY techniques came down to the details. “I knew I wanted sapphires for my wedding cake,” she said. “My ring is a sapphire.” Fitch said she’s not very traditional, so she wanted to do more herself, like search for unique cake decorations, to make her wedding less generic. Fitch said, “I think if you just go out and get stuff, it makes it less expensive, too.” She did that, with the help of her creative-minded mother, Marlene Landon, when planning her July 10 wedding to her husband Brad. The ceremony was at Second Presbyterian Church, and the reception was at the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.

“I had a bunch of websites that I stalked,” Landon said of her inspiration. And together, she and Fitch got to work. While she didn’t do her own invitations, Fitch wax sealed and stamped each one. For her bridal luncheon at the Apple Cake Tea Room, they collected different cups and saucers from thrift stores to hand out as favors and made table runners out of toile fabric. At the wedding reception, they hand-painted signs for drinks and food, and they even created a candy bar, collecting different candies and serving them in paper cones. She also enlisted help of friends and family to set up the reception area.

While she had her hand in many details, Fitch was only engaged to Brad from December to July. “I think people think if you want to do a lot yourself and have a big wedding, you have to be engaged for long.”

Sprouse said the new DIY trend can be accomplished, and luckily, it doesn’t take away her job. She explained The Modern Hostess helps brides create a “blueprint” for their wedding, taking their vision and helping them with details and logistics. “There are things we say, ‘You could save money and do that yourself,” she said.

But both Fitch and Lacher agreed brides can do too much. “Eventually, your head will explode,” Lacher said. And that’s where, Sprouse said, professionals should step in. “When it comes down to it, you do need a professional to help you carry it through in the end,” she said. Pinckard agreed she’s seen the importance of a bride passing her vision on to either a wedding coordinator or trusted person to help carry out final details. “It’s nearly impossible to see that plan carried out on your wedding day when you’re unable to run around because of the train on the back of your dress,” she said. “As a bride, you can’t really celebrate well when you’re distracted.”

Sprouse and Pinckard both said that while the DIY trend is helpful in personalizing weddings, there are some basic rules to apply. Pinckard encouraged brides to consider their guests. If it’s a backyard wedding, remember that it could rain or be cold, which isn’t comfortable for anyone, she said. “Consider caring for all people involved,” she said. “While they are celebrating you, celebrate them.” Sprouse said simply, “Do it because it has means; not just because it saves a dollar.”


Day 437: Snow Day!

It's our first snow fall in our new home! Inside it is cozy and fun to be working on the laptop across the room from my husband who is also hard at work on his. And sweet puppy Harding loves the snow! Though it makes him a bit rowdy.
it is days like this that I wish I acutally used a camera.
Happy Snow Day!


Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Here is a great look at Christmas from our great friend Austin. Enjoy and check out his blog at

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

His seventeen-year-old fiancé sleeps,
he drives south. Exhaust seeps through
holes in the floor of their Chevy pick-up,
a rusted deathtrap that he curses.
She wakes, she vomits twice, she needs
to pee every two hours. He feeds more
oil into the engine, a scared dog
that shudders above fifty. He watches
her watch the black river of asphalt flow.
Folks back home would be buzzing with gossip
by now. He glances at her
swollen belly, nine months large, not his.
“There’s only one way a girl gets knocked up,”
his best friend’s words pop like distant rifles.

Her water breaks as they pull into town,
a one-stoplight speck, Bethlehem,
Pennsylvania, with no proper hotel
or hospital. Joe ducks inside a bar
to ask about a doctor. Darkness seethes
with folks like them, out-of-towners
needing beds. No vacancies anywhere,
no clean sheets at a bed and breakfast.
Emergency room? Epidural? None.
They hold hands, he prays, “Don’t let Maria
or the baby die. We’ve tried so hard
to do what’s right. People are calling her
a slut and me a fool. You are
our only refuge, our only hope.”

A tap on the window. The bartender
in flannel and jeans nods, “I think I can
help.” They follow him out to pastureland.
He’s called ahead. His wife’s father was
an ob/gyn. She’s cleared off the tool bench
in the garage and spread a faded quilt.
“We’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way,”
she smiles. She has hot water, dish towels,
rubbing alcohol. Joe follows orders.
Maria’s lost more blood than he’s ever
seen, even butchering a deer. He cuts
the cord with a carpet knife. “Tearing
could have been much worse,” she observes.
He’ll believe anything right now.

A crowd has heard somehow and gathers
outside. They sing those happy hymns, laughing,
Glory Hallelujahs, Holy Holys.
He kneels, Maria kisses his fingers
one by one. He wants most to be slow, gray,
kissing her cheek, recalling this night,
terrible, brimming over, okay now,
after he’s known for years that she was
telling the truth, that this really happened,
that he was the one who wiped blood off
the face of God with his busted up hands
and heard in the baby’s first cry
laughter of the Most High, Creator,
Doer of impossible joys.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Day 436: Children and Family Ministries Open House

With the help and hospitality of my fabulous husband, we hosted a nice afternoon with volunteers and families from 2nd Pres. The menu included, crab brusetta, chips and toasted tomato salsa, veggie and spinach dip, cocktail sausages, and cornbread with pumpkin cutter. To drink, we had hot apple cider, coffee, and chocolate milk. Plus, there were all those Christmas Cookies!!
Our tree looks so wlecoming in the den and welcomed most of the kids in, as elf was playing on the TV. Bu of course, nothing was more intersting to our younger guests than Harding, the perfect pup and party host! Maddie, Mary Sims, and Blakely were also distracted by wedding albums.
Meanwhile, our adult guests munched and drank and chatted and toured the house. These people are such a blessing to me and to our kids at 2nd Pres! What a perfect way to celebrate - God is at work. The desire of HIs heart are all tied up in the things of this afternoon - service, celebration and community!

Day 429: Neighborhood Christmas Party

Our wonderful neighborhood had it's annual Christmas Party last Saturday night. We met lots of people and got to know several people better. And, I fell even more in love with our neighborhood. Two items of note:
1. There were several people in the neighborhood that have owned multiple homes. They have loved the neighborhood so much that they moved from one house to another. Meanwhile, several others have added on to their homes. There is certainly room to grow in Forest Heights, especially with our lots. Plus, our neighbors are wonderful.
2. Guess what was the primary topic of conversation?
Yes, a coyote has been repeatably spotted in our neighborhood. And, it seems to be injured, so it is likely to linger.
Seriously? Can this be happening? A coyote in the middle of town?
We have been told by wildlife officials to shoot it. And then we have been told that shooting anything in the middle of town is illegal. So, we'll see. Ah, the adventures of Forest Heights!

Our sweet little neighborhood.

More at>


Day 435: Baking Day

Today was my first major holiday baking day. It was a perfect day. I was charged up from breakfast at Pete's with my husband and running Saturday errands. And I got to work. Now, I am stucked up for the season and all the celebrations. So, stop by and get any of the following...

Sam's Winter Bark
Anything that involves white chocolate and oreos cannot miss.

PB and Chocolate cookies
A Landon family tradition, these cookies are a lot like Girl Scout tag-a-longs...only better.

Lemon Squares
A favorite of William Bradley.

Sugar Cookies
With all the splendor and sprinkles of the season!

Angie's Toffee
So, so good. I topped it with bit-of-brittle, instead of nuts

There were also some dips and breads to get ready for tomorrow's open house honoring our wonderful volunteers from 2nd Pres! Here's to a happy holiday!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Quote for the day...

The Miracle on Main Street was a success.
Plans are all but set at the church.
In less than a week, the celebrations begin.

So, now, I head into my weekend. And I'll make this quote my prayer...

"May your soul breathe deep today, and may your home be a place to be. Not a place to be busy, or to be anxious, or to be contentious. May it not be a place of turmoil, or a place to worry what they are thinking. May it simply be a place of truth, of freedom, and togetherness. May it be restful, joyful, and safe."
- Chatting At the Sky Blog

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Day 432: Miracle on Main Street

"You are invited to our Christmas Show!"
Wendesday Night 6:30 at 2nd Pres!
Holiday dinner at 5:30.
Our kids have worked for months and months and it is a wonderful, wonderful production that we are excited to share!
So excited, so Christmas!

Day 431: CRPD Report at

Tonight, I get to report at the General Membership meeting of the Junior League. Our Community Research and Project Development Committee is recommending that the League review 4 important community projects. It is not the msot exiting announcement in the world, but it will be at a fun location, the East Tennessee Historical Society. I have not yet gotten to enjoy all this musuem has to offer. So, I am looking forward to the evening!

Here's a little more about what this musuem has to offer:
Recognizing that East Tennessee’s history, heritage, and geography are distinct from the rest of the state, the East Tennessee History Center provides services uniquely tailored to the region. Visitors can attend workshops and conferences, enjoy a lecture, peruse exhibitions, research family history or a special historical subject, participate in student and teacher educational programs, as well as find a wide selection of books, crafts, and history-related items in the Museum Shop.


Day 428: Nurturing Your Soul

Saturday morning, I got to enjoy a wonderful advent retreat hosted by my friend, Lainie Allen, a spiritual director. she and her husband Daniel have an important ministry here in Knoxville. Here is why, in their own words...

Many people sense that they want and "are" something more than the busyness of each day. They have a longing to step away from the pace of life, connect with God and nurture their soul.

To nurture one's soul is to become more aware of God and self through spiritual practices such as quiet, reflection and praise/thanksgiving. It is opening oneself to His love and peace, and finding rest. The early Fathers and Mothers of our faith shared the wisdom of these spiritual practices. Jesus, the wisest Teacher, pointed the way to a deeper spiritual life through these words...Get away with Me and you'll recover your life...Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.... Keep company with Me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly.

At Nurturing Your Soul, we walk alongside you to help you find the rhythms of grace by listening for God's voice... Knowing more of yourself and God.

Learn more at>

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Day 427: Pilgrim Walk

Friday, admist the fun of First Friday and the anniversary of our engagement, we made time to drop by a book signing at Cafe 4, for our friend, Suzanne Hassel.
Suzanne leads Holy Paths ministries, which is all about guidance, companionship and rest. Brad has gotten to know her work with the Knoxville Fellows.
Now, her new book, Pilgrim Walk, contains meditations alongside breathtaking photography from her son. I can't wait to read it!

More at>

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Advent Week One: Hope

It is week one of advent and I am trying to set my ideas on the season at hand.

I have always heard that Christmas is the busiest season in church work. Yep, the seems to be true.
In the midst of the many events and ideas, I am a newlywed seeking to establish holiday traditions of our own and make it a memorable season in our lives.
Plus, my task-oriented self just wants to get things done. Christmas cards out on December 1. Tree and decorations perfectly and promptly displayed. Wonderful, meaningful gifts (purchased at a great price) for everyone on my list under the tree and looking like Martha stewart wrapper them herself.

But, meanwhile I pray, pray, pray that the center of my heart is on nothing but Christ, our Savior, who moved into my world to show His love for me and to eventually save me. I pray that my heart will be guarded from all other distractions. I pray that I will know new truths and learn more about him this season. And if Christ is the center of my heart, it will be easier to keep Him the center of our home, the center of all ministry, and even the center of my todo list.

So, this week, in keeping with the tradition's of the Advent season, I have been thinking about "Hope."

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." - Romans 15:13

I looked at this verse on Sunday, after the candles were lit by one of my favorite families during worship at 2nd.
So, I see that trust leads to peace and joy. Peace and joy lead to hope. And it's all from the Holy Spirit.
Makes sense on paper.
But then, let's flash forward to Tuesday morning. This idea of hope is on my mind when I wake up still frustrated and confused about a conversation I had with a friend the previous day. Where is the hope in that; in waking up worried? Then, I talk and pray with a friend who is going through a divorce. I have a long conversation with another friend battling bulimia. I get an email from one of my most academically accomplished friends, who confesses overwhelming feelings of depression and may not be able to continue her academic pursuits. Then, a coworker tells me of the guilt she has for not seeing her grandmother on Thanksgiving, because this grandmother is now in hospice care. I get the news that a sweet Converse and YL family I have known and loved is loosing their father to cancer. Oh, and then there is a leak in my ceiling in my office.

Where is the hope in all of that?
And if we first have to trust God in order to have peace and joy and eventually hope, then how in the world do I tell a hurting world to trust in the midst of all this mess? In the middle of this brokenness?
I know certainly that my God is the source of joy, peace, hope, and trust. He Himself is the author and perfecter of my faith.
But is just blows me away to think, that the Lord of All, would choose to walk into this mess.
He choose to come to earth.
To come into all this hurt and brokenness.
To get His hands dirty.
To fix things.
To love the unlovable.

What wondrous love is this? Oh my soul!

Day 425: Snow!!

The only thing I like about snow!
It's the fist snow fall of the season and definitely worth a blog post.
And the only things better than a snowy day as I am leaving the getting to share the news of the snow with 25 preschools!
Love my life.