For the second year in a row, my office had a Christmas decorating competition last week. We formed the office into three areas and the employees into three teams. My team decided on a "Christmas land" theme complete with a Christmas photo booth as you see in the photo below. And, we WON! It was exciting. :) My co-worker took a short video of the decorations that you can watch here. I think we won because the judges (from my old workplace, Partners!) loved posing at our photo booth so much.
I have to admit that I was partially dreading the competition (which is terrible because I'm the event planning head!), mostly because the task seemed daunting. Of course, I shouldn't have worried because my co-workers had great ideas and skill. It's been so fun to turn on all the Christmas lights in the mornings when I first get to work.
For the second year in a row, my church has had a women's retreat at Camp Spalding/Clearwater Lodge, which is the main Presbyterian camp and retreat center in the Spokane area. It's just about 40 minutes north of my house in the beautiful pine-wooded, lake-filled countryside. The photo below is looking across Davis Lake towards the distant mountains from the room where we had worship sessions. We experienced most of the outdoors through big windows because the temperatures have been in the teens for the last couple days. I took a walk on Saturday afternoon and it look my legs 30 minutes to thaw--no kidding! You can see in the picture below that the shore of the lake has iced over.
My friend Margy and I drove up to camp on Friday afternoon and joined about 45 other women. The whole weekend was lovely. There's something about being away from home in a retreat setting that gives women the freedom to share more freely and deeply. We had some great moments of laughter and of sharing our stories together. After dinner on Friday night, we split into six groups and had to create a Nativity scene with the materials we had available at our tables. The photo below is the Nativity scene my group created. Someone commented that the sheep looked like ghosts, which I have to agree with. The yellow rays from the star was just the plastic that held in a package of paintbrushes. How cool is that? We had some very creative women in my group. I appointed myself Chief Glue-Gun Operator since it requires very little creative energy. :)
Time in general seems to fly by, but the Advent/Christmas season always zip by particularly quickly. I wonder why. I'm trying my best to savor Advent, the unique season in the Church Year of longing, anticipation, introspection, and joy. I'll leave you with a couple verses from one of my favorite Advent songs, Holy Is Your Name, a traditional Scottish hymn.
My soul is filled with joy as I sing to God my savior:
You have looked upon your servant, you have visited your people.
Refrain: And Holy is your name, through all generations!
Everlasting is your mercy to the people you have chosen, and Holy is your name.
In your love you now fulfill what you promised to your people.
I will praise you, Lord, my savior, everlasting is your mercy.