Wherein the Week is Recapped

We returned last night from a wonderful time in California. We relished time spent with our family, and enjoyed all kinds of adventures together!

We went bowling,

and ice skating,

visited the ocean,

celebrated four birthdays,

and had a fabulous time with our family!

~Natalia

p.s. Happy 22nd Anniversary to my parents!

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Self-Esteem Boost

Yesterday’s activities included a trip to Monterey, CA. Our final destination was the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which rates high on my list of favorite places ever, but we first stopped for lunch at Lover’s Point.

After we had eaten lunch, Stevy and the boy cousins wandered down to the beach, to do some good ol’ fashioned rock climbing along the water’s edge. Shortly thereafter, Mia and I followed the boys down to the water. I kicked off my TOMS shoes (thank you, Grandma) and stashed them next to a large rock. I leaned down to roll up my jeans, to minimize how wet I would inevitably get, but hesitated.

“Ah, my legs are so hairy!” I exclaimed to my cousin.
“Well, people only look at your face anyway.” Mia said wisely.
“Yeah…” I admitted
“And besides,” she added, “even if someone does think, ‘good face; ooh, don’t like that shirt; oh wow, she has hairy legs,’ they’re not going to say that to you!”

So next time you’re feeling iffy about the state of your legs, or appearance in general, remember that people only look at your face anyway.

Thanks, Mia.

~Natalia

Lessons from Reepicheep

I saw the newest Narnia movie today; went with my cousins, aunt, uncle, brother, dad, and grandparents to an adorable [read: tiny] theater and saw The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I haven’t read the book since elementary school, and even then my dad actually read them to me, but the movie seemed very much like the book I remember.

My favorite part was the very end [SPOILER ALERT], when Lucy, Edmund, Eustace, Caspian, and Reepicheep walk with Aslan along the shores of Aslan’s land. Aslan, of course, represents Jesus Christ in C.S. Lewis’ allegory, and His land is Heaven.

While Lucy, Edmund, and Eustace are to return to England, both Caspian and Reepicheep are given the option to enter Aslan’s land forever. Caspian chooses, as Aslan knows he will, to remain alive and rule Narnia in a way his father would approve of, while the little mouse Reepicheep chooses to enter Aslan’s land.
Reepicheep is bursting with excitement. As soon as the group lands on the shore at the beginning of the scene, the mouse is running ahead. He’s looking around and grinning, waiting for the moment when he can ask Aslan for permission to enter His land. Reepicheep is valiant, humble, and sweet, and he is so very excited to go to Heaven and be with Aslan forever, in His land.

I want to be more like Reepicheep. Reepicheep was brave, kind, forgiving, wise, funny, courageous, humble, compassionate, and most importantly, he loved and served Aslan with all his heart. And when it came time for Reepicheep to enter Aslan’s land, he was so excited he could not contain himself.

Heaven is where those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ and who have Him as their Savior will go when they die. In Heaven, believers will be with Jesus forever, and there will be no sadness or pain. Yet even though I know that Heaven will be awesome beyond my imagination, I often become caught up with things that seem important in this world; things that are small, things that will not matter in a little while.

But I can’t be as eager as Reepicheep when I am caught up in the tiny bits of this world, can I?

~Natalia

Christmas Day

With every gift we open, the tree in the corner becomes increasingly laden with the curly ribbons my sisters hang on it. Every time we think we’re through opening gifts, more appear. An aunt brings a box in from the car, Grandma pulls bags from behind the tree. With every present put in my hands, I look over at Mia. Seven years apart and the same size, not to mentions cousins, most of our gifts are either similar or even identical, and we have fun opening each package in sync.

More cousins arrive and we drop what we are doing to greet the newcomers. Hugs and kisses are exchanged, as are remarks on how much us kids have changed. Soon we’re caravanning to Jenelle’s for dinner. It was supposed to pour today, but the sky is grey and dry. A patrol car pulls in between cars two and three of our caravan, and we wonder if we were speeding. But he soon peels off at an exit and we continue on our way.

It’s dinnertime at Jenelle’s and we gather in the long kitchen. We clasp hands in a circle, only to realize that four people in the hallway are locked out of our circle of love. A little rearranging, and a three-way handhold, and we’re back in business. My dad blesses the food and we break formation, moving slowly toward where Uncle Tom is handing out white plates and explaining the food line.

It takes three tables to seat all twenty-nine of us, and I slip into a seat next to Mia, with the rest of the cousins down the table. We giggle our way through blue-cheese apple salad, turkey, potatoes, and stuffing, and linger around the table even after we’ve scraped our plates clean. For some reason Marcus’ big, Italian wristwatch is on the table next to me, and I swing it around my wrist as I listen to the chatter around the room.

Two little cousins are playing with the flight simulator in the computer room. One is driving the plane while the other hangs on his arm and watches the screen with wide eyes. My own sisters are draped on the plush carpet in the TV room, playing cards with Mia. Older cousins, aunts, and uncles are gathered in the living room, swapping stories and laughing. My brother, dad, uncles, and a couple other cousins are lounging on the couch in the TV room watching a basketball game, since there’s no football on. The house is full of family talking, laughing, eating, and being together, and it is wonderful.

~Natalia

Here I Am to Worship

{By Michael W. Smith}

Light of the World
You stepped down into darkness
Opened my eyes
Let me see
Beauty that made
This heart adore You
Hope of a life
Spent with You

Here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that You’re my God
You’re altogether lovely
Altogether worthy
Altogether wonderful to me

King of all days
Oh, so highly exalted
Glorious in Heaven above
Humbly You came
To the earth You created
All for love’s sake became poor

I’ll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross
I’ll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross

Here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that You’re my God
You’re altogether lovely
Altogether worthy
Altogether wonderful to me

Merry Christmas.

~Natalia

Nativity Scene

~Natalia

A Question

Why must airplane movies be G-rated tear-jerkers that reduce me to wiping wet blobs off of my cheeks as I squint blearily up at the flight attendant who is cheerily asking me what kind of drink I would like?

~Natalia

p.s. We arrived safe and sound in California and are looking forward to a great week with our family here!

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