Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 In Review

Wow, 2010 has been an amazing year for the Goat family - full of ups and downs certainly but ending on a big up.  Here are a few of the year's blog posts looking back on a great year!

January found us with an 11 month old.  I participated in Missy's Bloggers Give back event at Feed My Starving Children and met so many new blogger friends with whom I've become very close this year.  I also honored our dear friend Emilie's birthday with a group of our friends toasting to her memory.

Just look how young baby goat was a year ago...crazy
February found me reflecting on baby goat's first year of life and Ash Wednesday.  We celebrated his 1st birthday in style with all the family!

March found me wanting to get back on board with my weight loss now that I was done pumping.  You were all so supportive as I talked about my fears that I decided to take the plunge and train for a 5k!

April kept me on my Couch to 5k training as we celebrated the 1st anniversary of baby goat's actual due date and the anniversary of leaving the NICU!

May went fast with another blog gathering in support of ending childhood hunger, more 5k training, and a trip to the Zoo to introduce baby goat to real goats!

June had a personal favorite post of baby goat's top 10 preschool entrance essay titles.  It also had my last VBS at old church, complete with baby goat's first asthma hospitalization.

July was the craziest month we've had since baby goat was born.  It began with a 3 day stay for baby goat in the Children's Hospital full of tests and treatments as we figured out what was up with his breathing (asthma).  Less than a week later I lost my job.  And then a week after that I was offered a new job at New Church.  In the space of 3 weeks our lives went through some huge changes!  Oh and baby goat even when on his first train ride!

August found me starting a new job and managing the changes that go with it, our first trip to Target field,  baby goat turning 18 months and me turning 31 at the state fair (and setting 31 goals for the next year).

September I participated in a September blog-a-thon and posted everyday.  I talked about worshiping with your toddler, discovered a rogue lymph node, went to my first Blogger conference and even ran my 1st 5k with my sister by my side!

October I wrote Pink for breast cancer, talked about a worship experience with baby goat, and of course baby Halloween cuteness!  Oh and I got a little defensive about society's treatment of fat people, particularly from Marie Claire magazine!

November I put myself out there and risked being nominated for a Future PriorFatGirl.  We survived our first stomach flu and our first apartment fire.  I also told baby goat's story for prematurity awareness!

December brought illness, car trouble and SNOW which nearly threatened to derail my first Christmas program, but it happened anyway!  It had parenting lows and recommitment to caring for myself as well as others.

Wow!  Looking back I'm in awe of all that happened this year.  Thank you if you have been here reading at any point this year.  I am grateful for your presence, support and community!  All in all I think 2010 was an amazing year for us and I am excited about what 2011 holds for our little family.

Happy New Year!  May the new year bring you wonders and joys unimaginable!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


You were all right.  Today was better, which I knew deep down it would be.  But thank you for your care and affirmations yesterday.  It meant a lot having you in my corner reminding me that my feelings were normal, that toddlers will be toddlers, and that sickness colors our abilities to manage stress.

I knew it, but in the midst I couldn't realize the truth in those words, so thank you.

It also serves to highlight one of my big needs for 2011 as it approaches.  I've decided, in lieu of making any hard and face resolutions, that this year will be about self-care.  It actually came about from my new intuitive pastor/supervisor at new church.  In my annual review conversation she mentioned that she wants to know that I keeping up on self-care given what she knows about the difficulties at my old job.  Plus as she correctly points out, people in ministry tend to give and give until they have little left for themselves.  She said that managing self-care is essential to remaining vibrant in ministry, which I do know from experience.

(Have I mentioned that she is awesome?!)

So in the interest of making this a year of dedication to my own self-care I'm brainstorming a list of things that I can do to improve my mental, physical, emotional and spiritual self all year long - with special emphasis on my health, my mom role and my ministry.

Here's what I have so far....

1.  Get my butt to the gym on a minimum 3 times per week basis.  (Because have I mentioned, the Goat grandparents have got us a Y membership for Christmas.  Which is so awesome and I am unreasonably excited about having a gym and a pool and classes at my disposal again!  I hardly know where to start first - tomorrow is the first day of the membership!!)

2.  Blogging - I'm going to take the time to continue my blog.  I have done this for years so it should be second nature, but it is important to me.  I'm not going to worry so much about reviews or giveaways or stats.  I'll pay attention to them when and if I want.

3. Dates with hubby - these need to be a more regular occurance.  Now that we have a sitter it should be easier.

4.  Dates with friends - likewise, these are so helpful to me.  I need to be diligent in keeping them up even if it is a casual coffee once or twice a month.

5.  Mindful food choices - this is always tricky.  I need to figure out a healthy eating plan but in a way that doesn't add stress.  Possibly weight watchers?

6.  Music - aka turn off the TV more and play more music.  Also reclaim ipod from the baby's room.

7.  Pedicures - and other fru-fru girly luxuries that help your mood instantly.

8.  Dessert - lets face it, desserts often help my mood.  I need to establish an eating plan that will allow for them in moderation so that I can treat myself when needed.

9.  Computer free night - I want to designation one night a week to be completely computer, phone, facebook and twitter free.  Probably Friday or Saturday, probably Friday.

10.  Friday's off - I need to honor the fact that I'm supposed to have Friday's off more often.  Sometimes I plan to clean and get on top of laundry.  Other times I can pull baby goat from daycare and have a special mommy-son date to the Children's Museum, Zoo or some other place we where have a membership or is cheap.

That is my list so far.  As I said, this is less about resolutions and more about an effort to make this year about keeping me in top form, maybe even better than my recent top form.  Weight loss would be nice and is a goal but is really a different issue from the self-care thing, even though they overlap.

So that's my start.  What would you add for me?  What would be on your list?

Monday, December 27, 2010

I thought it would be easier...

Post disclaimer: Much of this is out of frustration, illness and emotion.  I'm sure I will feel better tomorrow but I want to be authentic on my blog.  Still if you want to comment in support that is wonderful, if you want to be critical of me, then just keep your comments to yourself, because I don't need them.  That being said if you want to read on, please do.

I always thought that at some point in my life I would be a Stay at Home Mom.  My mom had a myriad of jobs but was always home with us too.  I just figured that I would have a chance to do that at some point, and who knows, I still might someday.  When we had baby goat, for better or for worse, it simply wasn't an option though.

And I am still lucky.  I have a daycare provider we love, I have a career I love.  Most of the time it is fine.

Dare I admit it?  I even enjoy working out of the home.  Yes, there are days when I feel like a horrible awful parent for not being there, for having to shuffle everything if baby goat gets a fever, feeling like I hardly have any time with him much less time for fun, play and learning.  There are days I'd love to have more time.  But yes, most of the time, I like getting away to a quiet office to think in (mostly) complete sentences and not deal an increasingly obstinant (albeit adorable) toddler.

Admitting that alone makes me feel like a horrible mom.  I know rationally that many moms have to work and even many moms are better moms for working but I feel like I should want to be home with him all the time.

And then there are days like today.  I've got the post Christmas cold - it may be the old cold come back after my meds wore off, I'm not sure, but I spent most of yesterday miserable in the back room at the ILs while they, and hubby, watched my son.  I felt bad enough for that.

Today Mr. Goat was sick in bed and I was marginally better, and since daycare is closed for the week I stayed home to care for him and baby goat.

And it all went to hell.

The hitting.  The biting.  The whining.  On and on.  He's feeling fine - full of energy, annoyed to be stuck in our too small apartment with nothing fun going on.  I was barely functioning trying not to cough on him, keep him engaged and from "loving" on the cats too much.

Baby goat turned 22 months yesterday.  He is charming, and smart (I think so at least), he's got a smile to melt you, but he is intense.  He's physical.  He hits - out of love and out of frustration.  He bites when you try to correct him.  People insist he'll grow out of it, but it is so hard.  My never ending refrain seems to be either "NO" or "Use your words"

It was endless today.  Even with PBS helping with the parenting, my cough and the acommpanying headache keep coming and so did he.  Everything was a battle.

Naptime was a blessing - a too short blessing.

By this time Mr. Goat went to a chiropracter to help fix a sore back in hopes of feeling better.  He also went to the grocery store which we really needed.  But again it was me and the toddler.

And it kept getting worse.  It was like he knew just the buttons to make me crazy (pretty intuitive for a toddler).  By the time it was dinner I just had to remove myself and have a good cry.  I felt beat up - physically and emotionally and just needed a rest.

Part of my sorrow in this is how is it that I can't even seem to handle one tough day with a toddler, the first real day he's home on "break"  I can't handle 1 day and I'm his mom.  Yes, I'm sick.  Yes, he's a toddler.  Yes, yes, yes.  I KNOW.

But  I'm his mom.  I thought I was supposed to be good at this.  I love kids.  I love working with them.  But I feel like such a failure to baby goat.

And it makes me sad. 

It makes me sad because I feel that way, but it also makes me sad that mom's have these expectations on them.  Do they come from society, our parents, ourselves, some deep competetive need?  I am not sure, but how awful is it that a single day can make me feel like the worst mother in the world.

Baby goat is fast asleep.  Content and happy.  Well fed.  Warm.  Safe.  Loved. 

How is it that I am a failure?  And yet, that's what I feel today.

Tomorrow Auntie Goat comes to watch him and I flee back to work.  I may still be sick but I'm going.  And the knowledge that I am fleeing my own child just to have a moment to recover from today....that makes me cry.

But it is the truth..

I love that boy, but I didn't like him very much today.  I didn't like me very much either.

So there you go.  The ugly truth.  I know it will get better, I know.  Or I will say so until it happens.  I just thought I'd be better at being a mom than this. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

Following the star

When the star appeared in the heavens the wiseman didn't hesitate.  They packed up their camels and traveled from distant lands in the certainty that a new king was born.  A shining star was all the sign they needed to know that the world was going to change forever.  They were full of certainty and marched confidently up to Herod's palace announcing their intention to see the new king.

Can you imagine their surprise, these wisest of men, when the new king of the world wasn't in the Palace?  Can you imagine their confusion?  Where was the king?

The star was pointing the direction, giving them a gps to the new child, but the wisemen thought they could guess their own directions.

If the star had been a GPS how many times would it have said "rerouting..."?

Eventually they did follow the directions.

Leave the palace...

Turn left into Bethlehem...

Turn right past the inn with no room....

Your destination is on your right.

Yes, the stable.

No, the star isn't broken.

The king of the world was born in a stable amidst the dirt and dust and dung of the animals.  But the wisemen did recognize him when they finally arrived.  They fell down and worshiped and gave gifts to the new king.

Sometimes I feel like a misdirected wise man.

It is easy enough to say, "I can follow the star, I can follow God's path for me in the world"

But I get ahead of myself and I think I know the direction I'm meant to go.  How often does God need to reroute my own life after I assume I'm heading in the right direction?

For the first time in ages this Christmas I feel as though I am on the path that God intended for me.  There have been some difficult times in the last few years but the last few months have been full of blessings and gifts beyond my imagination.

Sometimes I felt like it was a gamble to say, "Yes, I want to be in ministry.  I want to deal with the humanity and politics of a church because I care about God, his church and its ministries."  These last few months I'm starting to think that I'm maybe starting to live up to the gamble God took on me instead.

This Christmas is a time of joy for me this year.  It is hard not to run around with the same enthusiasm as my toddler.  Look! Lights! Sparkles! Music! Presents!  Everything seems like a new gift to me, both in the gifts I've already been given and viewing them through the eyes of my son.

When the wisemen discovered the baby Jesus in the manger their troubles didn't end.  They had to flee king Herod, just as the Holy Family did too.  I don't anticipate life to be all sunshine and roses from here on out but today and tomorrow I celebrate with Joy the gifts of this year and pray that I may be able to percieve God's path as I continue in my own ministry.

Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope your blessings are as obvious to you as a star shining in the heavens!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Just what I needed...

I think the last 2 weeks were hard on so many people.  Lots of colds, expensive repair bills for furances or cars, the blizzard, etc weigh on people heavy.  I know I was struggling with my cold and with poor baby goat not feeling well either and so the events of this weekend were just what I needed!

I finally dragged myself into the doctor and left with perscriptions for an antibiotic and a steroid.  The combo went a LONG way in taking care of my lingering cold/cough/asthma fun.  This probably helped make my weekend wonderful which is why I include it here.

I went to the dentist (No Cavities!), work and a few errands.  Then I had dinner with the family, put the baby to bed, and went out for a rare girl's night out.  I'm not really a bar kind of girl but it was fun to see some of my twitter friends (old and new) and hear Tim Mahoney, a local musician, sing.  He didn't have his band, just him and the guitar and it was a great time!  It was just so nice to be out and unplugged!

We had no plans Sat.  I let Mr. Goat sleep in since he was still fighting our cold, but I had a great morning with baby goat.  He was finally back to his old cheerful self and I had forgotten how much I missed the twinkling eyes and unbridled joy of baby goat when he's well.  When Mr. Goat got up we all packed up to run a few errands and had a lovely family lunch at the pizza buffet.  We were all together doing something fun, rather than trying to run errands and leaving at least one parent home with the sick child.  Baby goat was giddy with the excitment of being out and about again and it was just nice.

Also nice was the long nap he took afterwards and playing after dinner.  Mr. Goat had a concert last night that I didn't go too but I had a quiet night catching up on some DVR and not cleaning, blogging or doing any of the rest of my to-do list.  Its ok too, the list is still there but I'll get it done.

I had an early morning when baby goat woke at 5:15 ready for the day, but I got to church early, played with bells, got our Sunday School underway, chatted with folks and just felt so glad to be there.  I'm really feeling like I'm starting to get a hang of the new job and the new people and I still think that I'm a great fit there.  Yes, nothing has been perfect but I am so thankful for this new church home and the way it has reenergized my ministry.

This afternoon I had a sitter and got to go to Mr. Goat's other choir concert.  It is always a great joy to sit and appreciate the beautiful choral music of a great MN choir and this was no exception.  It was a testament to how my own mental state though that it was full of joy.  There were times I would attend a concert in the midst of feeling beaten down by things that the music is bittersweet.  At those times the music acts like a good movie tearjerker - a good cry to help you feel better.  No good cry was needed tonight.  Just peace and joy.  I am feeling very blessed right now and it is amazing.

The concert wrapped up with a real date with my hubby having dinner out in a real restaurant.  You can't really go wrong with that!

So in summary.  I haven't done my laundry, my cleaning, my wrapping, mailing, or Christmas carding, and I am ok with that.  This weekend was just what I needed.  A chance to be together with my family and my friends and celebrate the blessings in simple ways.  What more can I ask for really?

I'll be back at the to-do list tomorrow because Christmas is coming quickly, but for now I sit here content.  If I were a cat I would be purring.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

CSN Winner!

Better late than never but I drew for my last CSN giveaway and the winner is Gina! Congratulations Gina! I'll be emailing you soon!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Snow couldn't keep the Christmas Program from coming

Last week was rough.  Really rough.  First there was the car trouble hat-trick I told you about last time.  That only took $850 to remedy.  (ouch)  My Christmas present is now getting to drive my car.  Then there was a duo of baby illnesses combined with a nasty cold of my own.  Then the blizzard.  You've heard of our MN blizzard last weekend?  20" of snow on Friday night and Saturday.

This of course was the weekend of our Christmas Program and Saturday was our one and only group dress rehearsal.  I drove into church Sat morning very early.  At first I was thinking, "This isn't too bad, we can still have rehearsal."  Halfway there I was thinking, "Well....?"  And once I got there I thought, "Can I go home now?  This is insane"  So we canceled rehearsal.

I did make it home fine after getting the message out to as many people as possible.  I was glad I left when I did as I got stuck in the church parking lot on the way out and needed a plow to come help me out.  (This was at 9:30am still)

The rest of the day was spent tending to baby goat and on the phone with my leadership teams trying to get a plan in place for the next morning.  (Also a little stress, and possibly some staring out the windo and possibly swearing).

And then my work email went down....

Then I found out that our "baby Jesus" had a stomach bug....

And then I just laughed.  Afterall what can you do at that point.

But in the midst of the panic a plan was formed.

And I got up early, early and headed out in the frigid snowy weather back to church on Sunday morning.  The church lot was only half plowed because the plow kept getting stuck.  There was hardly anyone there, and I wondered if we were going to cancel church for a moment.

And then people started coming in.

And the organist gave us his prelude time to practice with the mics in the sanctuary.

And the volunteers trickled in, and so did the kids.

We started with 20ish at the beginning of our ad hoc rehearsal.

By the time of our program we had approx 150 kids who found their way there through the ice, snow and cold.  The parents crowded the sanctuary beaming at their kids in velvet dresses and little ties, with animal ears on their heads.

They videotaped and took pictures.

And the kids sang.  And we helped them remember who was speaking when and they were amazing.

And wouldn't you know it....

Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem...

And the baby was born...

And the angels sang...

And the shepherds worshiped...

And the kids sang in a heavenly chorus.  Not perfect no, but human and beautiful and lovely.

Despite the weather's best efforts Christmas came anyway in the hands of the children.

And I felt like I had a Grinch transformation moment.  Witnessing something precious my heart seemed to grow three sizes as I realized that Christmas is not in the details.  It is not in the velvet dresses, or a flawless reading, or having a good dress rehearsal.  It is not in the cookie reception or using a real baby or a doll as Jesus.

Christmas comes in the voices of the children.  And I am reminded that the program is not about me, it is about God.

The same God who sent the blizzard that made the world a brilliant blanket of white.

The same God who sent his son to be born in a stable.

I imagine this God giggled this weekend, even as he worked to keep people safe in the snow.  Afterall, we are comical in our vain attempts to control the world.

And in my first year in a new church, remembering that I am not in control may have been just the Christmas lesson that I needed.

Still, if this week could be gentler God, I'd appreciate it.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Bad "Car"-ma or Why I'm never driving again.


My car woes this week are both maddening and so extreme that they have become down-right comical.  Comical enough to share with you all.  I hope you get a groan and a giggle out of it and can appreciate that you have not had the week that I have. 

Incident #1

After a busy weekend and having a bad cold I planned to take a slow morning on Monday to recover a bit before a very busy week at work (It's Christmas Program week!).  I headed out at about 10am on the way to work with plans to stop at Target for some cold meds and diet coke.  I never made it to Target.

On the way there I was stopped at a light and bang!  I was rear ended.  I pulled into a nearby lot as did the other driver.  When she got out I found she was young and really scared of what happened.  I got a whole story, she was on her way to work, didn't know what happened, so sorry, etc.  Along the way I found out she didn't have insurance (bad).  I said I really ought to call the police she said that she also didn't have a driver's license (double bad).  She was freaking out and worried about being late for work.  In a moment of sympathy I let her go getting what info I could from her (name, number, license plate number, etc).  And I let her go.

Then I got back in my car and said "wait a minute...."  I realized that being sympathetic or not this girl shouldn't be driving.  So I did call the police then and got to follow the cop to her work and ID the other driver.  The driver got two tickets (one for driving without a license and one for driving an uninsured car).  I felt guilty for turning her in but really, she shouldn't be driving without those things.

After getting an estimate on my car it seemed that the damage really was minimal to my car, thankfully.  I could replace the bumper or just have a little dent in my bumper.  Frankly I'm ok with a dent.  My bumper did exactly what bumpers are supposed to do and nothing else was damaged.  Yay!  So it really did turn out fine all things considering but it made for a crazy morning.

Incident #2
This one is all my fault, though still accidental, but it really makes me grouchy.

Our apartment put up notices that Wed morning they were clearing the snow from our parking lot and that cars needed to be out by 9am.  Cars not moved would be towed. I saw it and it registered.  Yet you can see where this is going.

Wed morning came.  I got the boys out the door to daycare and went about getting ready.  I sat down on the bed and still having a cold made the mistake of laying down.  An expensive mistake as I woke up at 9:15.  I got ready but had forgotten about the plowing until I got outside to the parking lot...

No car.

Now I should have known better.  Yes.  But in a sliver of defense, never, in the 6 years we've lived here have they ever made good on a threat to tow a car.  They have always plowed around it. 

But they started this week, with me.  Ugh.

$213.75 and several hours later I had my car back.

Incident #3
Wednesday evening I was driving home from our church advent service with baby goat in the back seat.  I was almost to my exit when my car started making a strange noise.  Suddenly I feel a tire blowout and quickly head to the side of the road.  My left rear tire blew out completely.

I couldn't reach Mr. Goat (who was in choir practice) and tried a few friends too.  Luckily one friend, K, who lived close to us came to gather baby goat.  I was on hold with roadside assistance and waiting for her when a good samaritan stopped and offered to change my tire.  I only know his name was Trevor.

In my defense, I can change a tire, but in the 10 degree weather, on the side of a busy highway, in the dark, in my work clothes, well I was going to go with roadside assistance.  Luckily Trevor was a pro.  My friend got there and took baby goat in her warm car and gave him some crackers to keep him happy and we changed the tire.  Part way through a cop came to help keep us safe and give us more light.  Once we got started it took about 20 minutes and all said and done we were on the side of the road for 45 minutes or so.

My car has sat today as Mr. Goat and I have shared cars today.  Tomorrow morning it goes in and we'll see how much this is going to cost us.  We'll probably get all new tires and they were getting due to be replaced anyway.  I don't know if the towing of the car that morning helped add to the blowout, or if it was a nail or the cold weather or what.  I just know that I'm not sure I should be trusted to drive (or park) anywhere right now.  Clearly my car is mad at me for something!

And that is my car trouble hat trick for the week.  It is only Thursday so I hope I'm not due for anything worse.  Please send working car thoughts to me tomorrow.  I'd really rather that the car place NOT find something else wrong with it.    I hope all of you are having a better week than me blogland.  Remember to stay safe out there.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Two Giveaway Tuesday - Giveaway #2

Our second giveaway this evening is also a good one.  I've done CSN store giveaways before and I love it because it is truly a versitale giveaway.  There is literally something for everyone because they have over 200 online stores.  Just imagine all of the amazing Christmas gifts you could get - toys for the kids, furniture, a flat screen tv stands, or even a cute pair of shoes for yourself (even Santa's helpers need little gifts too)!

CSN has been so easy to work with and this time they have offered one of my blog readers $65 at any one of their 200 stores.  Just imagine how far that can go for your holiday decor or for presents under the tree. 

To enter just leave a comment with the favorite holiday present you have ever recieved!

For an extra entry you can do any of the following things.  Please leave an additional comment for every entry.

1.  Follow the Lutheran Geek on Facebook (1 entry)
2.  Follow me on Twitter (1 entry)
3.  Follow this blog on the left (1 entry)

I hope $65 can go a long way to helping make a Christmas bright for one of my readers.  Merry Christmas blogland!

CSN will provide the winner with a gift code for $65.  I did not recieve anything for this giveaway, I just enjoy giving things away.  This giveaway runs until Tuesday Dec 14th at 9pm.  Which is plenty of time to still get something under the tree by Christmas!

Two Giveaway Tuesday - Giveaway #1

I've got two quick Christmas giveaways to offer to you all this Tuesday!  So here we go!

Our first giveaway is to a Twin Cities show so you must be close enough to use these tickets.  I love a good holiday show - there is nothing that gets you in the mood like Christmas music.  So our first giveaway is to a locally produced holiday review called "Christmas Again" at the New Hope Cinema Grill in New Hope, MN.  I'm giving away two tickets to the show.  It is a musical review starring two of our local talent and it is getting great reviews.   Just choose which performance you want to attend and they are all yours!  The show is offered Dec. 19th and 20th.

This will be a quick one so enter today.  The giveaway will run through Thursday, Dec 9th at 9pm.  Oh, and how do you enter?  Just leave a comment with your favorite Christmas carol!  Good luck!

I was offered two complimentary tickets to giveaway.  This giveaway will only run until Thursday at 9pm so enter now. 

Monday, December 06, 2010

The Ugliest Angel

My friend Missy send me a message the other day about an ornament blog carnival that she wanted to do today.  Well life and life and comcast conspired against me today and I'm just posting this now.  But I still wanted to post and join my friends.  So without further ado... The Ugliest Angel.


This angel has been the source of pride, embarassment, joy, delight and tradition for me for as long as I can remember.

You see, that ugly little angel.  I made it.  And it has graces the top of my parents Christmas tree.  Every year it is brought out and placed at the top of a tree full of ornaments with back stories galore.  It isn't lovely, and after nearly 25 years on the tree it is a bit beat up too, but it is sits aperch each Christmas tree each year.

It is hard to know why a 4 yr old craft project continues to speak to me.  Perhaps it is the dedication to something I made.  But I think it is more than that.  This little ugly angel, with green hair and the crooked smile is a sign of the beauty of Christmas.

The reality of life is that we are all a little ugly from time to time. It isn't always on the surface too. Christmas can bring out stress and tension in even the most jolly among us.  But it is the little things that remind us that Christmas is a time of joy. 

Because really Christmas is about a gift of a small child sent to redeem the world.  And in the ugliness of a birth in the muck and the mud of a stable, in the cold, under a regime that made a pregant woman travel to pay taxes, a child was born.  In the ugliness of Herod choosing to kill all kids 2 and under to find any possible child king, a child survived.  In the ugliness of the cross, a child died... but in that death there is grace, and peace and joy.

Ultimately my little ugly angel was created by a 4 yr old hand who loved the color green, but today it reminds me that even our ugliness can be beautiful through the light and grace and gift of God's Son.