Points to Ponder, Uncategorized

Weird, Wild, and Wonderful Things from 2015

Today I am sharing some of the most memorable things that happened within our family in 2015. Oh boy, what a memorable one it surely was! The first seven to eight months I would describe overall as just “rough.” Sure, there were lots of blessings thrown in there, but it was full of literally one challenge or mishap after another. I may be able to just title this post “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” (This is where I should insert James 1 verses in…)

Thankfully this fall was pretty smooth and we haven’t had anything major happen in awhile–thank you LORD!! I promise to put plenty of good stuff in here lest you think I’m a drama queen or a big whiner.

So…after polling my kids and reflecting for myself, this is what was noteworthy for the Craig family this year:


Longwood Gardens. This was one of the great highlights for us. At the tail end of 2014 we purchased a year-long family pass to this amazing place and I am SO glad we did! It is incredibly beautiful in each and every season and we visited there a number of times. As I am a highly visual person, this was a bright spot of refreshment for me.


Jeff lost a finger. Yup, I’m just gonna go there now and get it out of the way. You know how the Chinese have The Year of The Dog or The Monkey? I may forevermore think of 2015 as The Year of the Finger. One unfortunate run-in with the lawn mower belt on July 3rd and our summer took a completely different turn. (You can read more about it at these posts–9 out of 10 and It’s In the Bag.) As a recent update, he is doing just fine and adjusted great after he was finally able to work full time. Also, a big praise is that he hasn’t had as much sensitivity to cold and pain that he was warned he may have at this stage of healing.

As a funny aside, this morning we saw something on the news about New Year’s Resolutions for 2016. Good old Josh, my little guy with a twisted sense of humor, piped up with this goodie:”My resolution is for no one to chop off a finger this year.”

My oldest had his first job this summer. He mostly lived at and worked for a nearby camp. At summer’s end he thanked me for letting him have this experience at barely fourteen. It was good for him in many ways, and taught me some in the process too. (Mostly how to learn to “let go” a little bit as a parent…hello teenage years!)

Also, my second oldest had his first job a few mornings a week on my in-laws’ dairy farm. He was grandma’s helper in feeding her “babies.” Sometimes a younger sibling or two tagged along to help as well!


Andrew broke his humerus, and it wasn’t very humorous. Sorry, I’m trying to be punny…..er, funny. This actually happened early on in the year. One day our oven element caught on fire and I had it pulled out to remove the busted part. In the process I sprayed cleaner along the cruddy sides of the stove/oven and in the process got the kitchen floor all slippery. What on earth does that have to do with Andrew’s arm? Well, that slippery floor led to a fall later that night, which led to a busted upper arm….see, A Series of Unfortunate Events!

Not long after he healed up and literally not even a day after we spent oodles getting all manner of work done on the Subaru, this happened…a run-in with a tree that fell in front of said car….


Which leads to this tearjerker story (The Jelly Jar), brought about by the kid that just recovered from a busted arm and then sprained his other wrist a mere week later. While being so touched by his selflessness, we realized that “hey, we may be doing this parent thing right once in awhile.” I also was brought to my knees and reminded about how much I need to trust in God for everything.

Ready to hear about some good stuff again? Me too…

I kissed a frog. Sorta. This was taken at an amazing Mother’s Day brunch event. All of the tables were a princess theme and ours was The Princess and the Frog. Yes, that is a real frog inside the bowl! ¬†Couldn’t resist puckering up for a picture. And yes, that is my daughter chuckling her head off in the background.

We took a fun day trip to Baltimore with my family. Post-riots.

Had another great state park experience for vacation. This was divine timing as it happened right before Jeff returned to work and before back to school craziness happened. It was a most refreshing and renewing time away for the 7 of us.

We experienced some more great hiking together.

Rocked our Candy Land themed event at school.


And last but not least, all of my kids mentioned what a great experience it was to put on a Christmas play for church!

Blessings to you as you reflect on your 2015 and look forward to 2016!

God is good. All the time.

Points to Ponder, Uncategorized

The Christmas Story: Wise Men

As Christmas is quickly approaching, I am writing a very short series featuring different people in the Christmas story. For the first post I focused on Joseph, and for the second round I wrote about the shepherds. Today I would like to look at the Wise Men and their role in this wonderful account.

wise man

In studying Matthew 2, there is much speculation surrounding the Wise Men. I have read a whole slew of different opinions, studies, and commentary regarding these men. Were there only three Magi? Probably not, we just assign the number three due to the fact that they brought three gifts. Did they visit Jesus, Mary, and Joseph at the stable like you see in typical nativity scenes? Again, probably not. It likely happened when Jesus was a bit older, not an infant. I will tell you that I am NOT an expert, so I won’t go too much into all of those details.

However, this is what I do want to share about the Wise Men, or the Magi:

In sharp contrast to the shepherds, these were probably wealthy, well educated men. In my last post I mentioned about the shepherds and how they would have been on a very low rung of the social ladder. These guys? Totally different story. They would have been well versed in the prophecies as well as astrology and many other studies. Also, the gifts they brought to Jesus would have been very costly items, so they must have been wealthy.

Another thing I’d like to note is that they truly sought out Jesus and recognized him as the Messiah. This may sound obvious, but it has lessons for us. It’s not like they saw something unusual in the sky and just happened to hop on over to the next town to check out why. They would have studied past scriptures and prophecies and recognized the signs. These men must have been attuned to God’s word and leading. Upon reaching their destination, they were “overjoyed.” They didn’t find a fancy king on a throne, but a little boy with humble parents. In Matthew 2:10-11, it says that when they saw him they “bowed down and worshiped him.” Also, they presented their three gifts, very costly items that were truly meant for a king. These guys recognized Jesus as king of the Jews and honored him for who he was.


The last mention of the wise men in Matthew tells us what happened after they worshiped Jesus. Herod had known they were seeking out the Messiah and had wanted them to come back and report to him about this future king. However, after they visited Jesus, they were divinely warned not to return to Herod. Instead, they returned to their homeland by a different route. This part of the story tells me that they were not only receptive to God’s leading, but obeyed Him rather than man.

So, what is my take-away from learning about the Magi? They studied God’s word, followed its leading, recognized Jesus for who he was, were quick to worship Him and honored Him with their all, and obeyed God rather than man. All things that I would like to aspire to today as well.



Points to Ponder, Uncategorized

The Christmas Story: Shepherds

Today I am writing a second installment in a short series based on the Biblical account of our Savior’s birth. The last one was all about Joseph, but today I will focus in on the shepherds.


I will readily admit that I didn’t think much about the shepherds’ role in this story until recent years. My husband is actually the one who was most impacted by their role, and from that I sat up and took more interest in their part of this wonderful story.

Here are some things I find interesting about the shepherds:

They were on an extremely low rung of the social ladder in that time, yet God chose them specifically to receive the news of Jesus’ birth before anyone else. Though they were initially terrified by the angelic appearance, their fear turned to joy as they took in the news about Messiah’s birth.¬†That joy combined with great excitement as they visited Mary, Joseph, and the baby. Immediately they spread the word about this baby, and people were amazed at what they said.


It fascinates me that these shepherds, who were normally not held in high esteem, were able to amaze whomever they shared the news with. This tells me that the townspeople must have seen the genuine joy on their faces and knew that they were speaking the truth. Their excitement must have been palpable! I would have loved to see this play out for real. These men, whether they were old or young or somewhere in between, recognized God in this miracle and quickly glorified and praised Him.

Today I am thankful for the shepherds, ordinary men whom God used in a most extraordinary way. They sought out Jesus, wholeheartedly believed in the miracle of His birth, and glorified and praised God. Most importantly, they couldn’t wait to share the good news with everyone they met!

Points to Ponder, Uncategorized

The Christmas Story: Joseph

Today I am beginning a short series based on the Biblical account of the birth of Jesus. I love the Christmas season and some part of the Christmas story hits me afresh each year. I am always struck by the variety of people God used to participate in the birth of His son here on earth. One of those people usually impact me in a new way, or perhaps I am able to see the story more from their perspective.

As my children were part of a wonderful Christmas pageant last week, I was inspired to do a small series highlighting what I’ve learned from some of these folks–all ordinary people that God used in an extraordinary way.

Today I will focus on Joseph, the man who became an earthly father to Jesus and husband of Mary. In the pageant I just mentioned, my oldest son Daniel played the part of Joseph. I’m not sure why, but watching my young man portray Joseph really impacted me.


Perhaps it’s because I’ve always seen Joseph as such a man of integrity, which is what I would love all my young men to grow up to be.

Joseph really was an example of integrity. There he was, a young carpenter, engaged to a young lady who suddenly lets him know that she is pregnant. He could have easily been enraged, putting her out of his life and disgracing her in a public way. This would have also gotten Mary stoned, the punishment back in those times. However, even before the angel appeared to him in a dream, he “had in mind to divorce her quietly” because he “did not want to expose her to public disgrace.” Now THAT is a good man, back in those days I’m sure and definitely in today’s world too.


Joseph was also a man of quick obedience.

An angel did appear to him and told him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. The angel reassured him that the child was conceived in her from the Holy Spirit and that he was to name him Jesus. So, did Joseph mull this over and weigh out the pros and cons for weeks on end? Nope. It says that “When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.” No hesitation or ignoring the dream or explaining it away. Joseph also was quick to obey the Lord when, after the visit from the Magi, an angel appears to him yet again and tells him to escape to Egypt with his family. No hesitation there either as he packed up his family during the night and fled King Herod’s wrath.


Also, Joseph had to know that when her pregnancy became noticeable and people found out, he also would be humiliated for taking her as his wife under the circumstances. But the threat of public scorn didn’t stop him.

I also want to note that when we first meet Joseph in Matthew 1:19, he is noted as “a righteous man.” Note–it doesn’t say “self-righteous,” it says “righteous.” There’s a big distinction there. What a fine example he is to us all.

So, to wrap up today’s installation, here is my take-away from studying Joseph: I would like to strive to be a person who is righteous (not self-righteous!), obedient to God, not afraid to stand up for what I believe in, and a person of integrity. I am thankful for Joseph and how God used him in the life of Jesus.

(Note: All of my references today were taken from Matthew 1 & 2, NIV)