Friday, December 31, 2010

New Life in the Dead of Winter

I was watching a story about Thomas Kinkade ("The Christmas Cottage"), and was touched by his definition of a Christmas Story - "New Life in the Dead of Winter".

I have to agree, those moments when hope and "new life" have sprung up during the midst of my long winters... wow. They have definitely been God-breathed. I am grateful for them.

I am grateful also for the hope and life that was breathed into the world - in the midst of it's "dead of winter" - so many years ago.

Thank You, God...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Little Something New

So, I am beginning my new year a little early....

I'm excited.

And right now, that's all I can say....



Yea God!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Day to Look Back and Look Forward

I believe it will be our day to look back and look forward. I like to have a "family meeting" at the end of the year to review what we did and set goals for the upcoming year. Personal goals, family goals, professional goals.

I intend to set daily, weekly, and monthly goals as well...

As I think back, it has been quite a year.... much joy and much struggle.

Our needs continue to be met. We have a wonderful community of which we are a part.

We are blessed beyond our wildest imaginings!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Settling in With a Good Book

I took the opportunity to head to bed a few minutes early the other night. My daughter tucked me in - which is our family tradition on nights when I retire before she does. It's delightful and sweet, and makes us both smile.

So, after being tucked into bed, I pulled out my book. "The Heartmender" by Andy Andrews. I had gone into the bookstore to find a copy of "The Noticer", by the same author, as a gift for a new friend. When I got to the shelf where it would be, there, at eye level, was the new book by the same author. I had really enjoyed "The Noticer", so I reached for it, and then saw the title. "Ugh!" I rolled my eyes. "OK. OK. I'll get it....."

So, I began reading....and loved it.

Tonight, I am going to do the same....sneak into bed a little early and pull out another book from the stack I have by my bed.... We'll see what catches my eye!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Back to the Grind....

I have had a nice "flex" in my scheduled - and a week of vacation - that has allowed me to have had quite a stretch away from the hospital.

I look forward to returning on one hand.... the 4 am alarm clock is going to be disturbing, to say the least, however....

I pray the transition goes smoothly, and God's presence be shown in some small way...

Guide my hands, my thoughts and protect my heart....

And, as You always do when I am there.... remind me how blessed I truly am.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Different Christmas

It was a different Christmas. My kids had received many of their gifts before Christmas - from Grandma - and will receive another when my sister and some cousins arrive in a few weeks. There wasn't much under the tree because of that, and stockings, we found out, were filled with mostly socks and underwear - and a few little things beside them.

My son reportedly woke up in the wee moments before 4 am - but stuck to his training: "DO NOT WAKE MOM (before 7)". :)

The day started with me breaking a string on my daughter's new guitar, and spending 2 hours trying to activate my son's new phone. From there, I just pulled the covers over me on the couch and ended up falling asleep.

The afternoon was uneventful, and allowed for discussion of how blessed we truly are. We set ringtones and took pictures for wallpaper. We spent the day together as a family.

It was a good Christmas....

I'm grateful.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Visions of Sugarplums

I'm sitting here, waiting for the kids to fall asleep....

I then need to hang my own stocking, secure the cat, and re-place the milk by the fireplace. The cookies are in place for Santa's visit.

My kids have worked every angle trying to see if we could open presents early - and if not that, could they at least SORT them before 7am. "uhm, no." They each have something to keep themselves occupied until the "reasonable hour".

We'll see if they - and then, by default, I - make it until then....

My son says "REALLY, I just want to wake up early to wish Baby Jesus a happy birthday!". Uh-huh. Good answer, though....

Me, I'm penciling in my nap early afternoon....

Merry, Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Opportunities to Serve

I will admit, I don't care for the song "Christmas Shoes"... yes, I like the message and the unexpected opportunity the singer was given to see past the commercialism that has become Christmas, but the song itself... not so much.

I feel fortunate to have had similar experiences today: Two unexpected opportunities to serve - in the smallest and simplest of ways, yet apparently meaningful to them, and definitely inspiring to me.

My first opportunity arrived shortly after lunch. I was standing in line to purchase two items. The area where we were standing seemed crowded and chaotic. I was second in line. I noticed an elderly woman carrying a shirt that she had picked up. Her gait was steady, but seemed a bit labored. I wondered if she'd had a stroke previously, and was having to consciously move each step. She appeared to be wanting to cut through to the other side of our line, so as she approached, I stepped back, and gestured her through with my hand.

With that, she paused and looked up for the first time. She looked right at me, like I had given her the greatest gift ever. And she kept looking. Finally, I said "hello...." and nodded. She nodded back, and turned to face the front of the line.

I laughed to myself, then. Thank You, God for giving me the opportunity to serve and be gracious without even having to think about it. Literally, a "God doing for me" moment. Not only was He helping me help someone else, but He was changing my perspective.

From there, we headed to the grocery store. We needed a few things - you know, the obligatory "snow-is-in-the-forecast-bread-and-milk-run". (Actually, it was only milk and dinner!) Down one of the aisles, we were given another opportunity.

We had begun to move our cart around a restocking cart. On the other side was an elderly gentleman in a Marines jacket. He wore two hearing aids and was riding a motorized cart. We backed up, pulled back into our "lane", and allowed him to pass.

Our paths crossed several times as we shopped. The third time, near the dairy section, he laughed as we nodded and said "I can't find what I'm looking for". Typically, I would have smiled, but no, not today. "What are you looking for?" I asked. "Refrigerated pie crusts, I have frozen ones, but I wanted the other," he said, "they used to be over there", and pointed behind him. "Yes, they did...", I replied, as I continued in that direction.

As I walked pasted the cheese, heading toward the refrigerated rolls, I thought to look. There they were. I called to my son. I was going to ask him to bring them to the man on the scooter-cart, but when I looked up for him, I saw the man, riding back to check again. I caught his eye as I held up the box, "these?"

His face lit up, which caused me to smile. "Thank you!" he said.

No, sir.... thank You!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cookie Redo....again...

I was going to surprise my grandmother by sending cookies back with my was actually my mother's idea...but, for some reason, it didn't work out as planned. The first attempt I knew wasn't right when unrolled the cookies.... the second attempt was better, but still not right.

So... rather than send lead-than-par cookies tomorrow, I will make some and mail them.

Though I would love to hear the story of my grandmother's expression and commentary as she eats a cookie that she made for me when I was my daughter's age, I would prefer for the cookie to truly be edible.

So, back to the grocery store for better butter, and I'll try again...
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Day to Enjoy

It is the last day of my mother's visit.

There isn't anything *really* on the schedule....

Just some time to enjoy....

Life is good.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


My children are having a great deal of difficulty this year waiting for Christmas.

"Can we just open our presents NOW, Mommy?" they ask. "No...."

It's been good for me, actually....

I tend to be a "bit" impatient myself (My boy would ask, "a BIG bit?" and I'd have to agree....). It has been a good reminder to me that there are often reasons for me to wait. Many of which I don't FULLY understand.

So, wait we will....

(oooh... it's getting exciting!!)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Silent Night

It was such an honor to see this this morning at church:

I was PARTICULARLY excited because my daughter got up and signed with them. She had told me she wasn't going to... but....

She did.

Thanks to another mom who jumped in and encouraged her in a way that I - as her mother - could not.

Thank You, God, for my church family.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wheels and Deals....

Today was our Wheels and Deals day....

My daughter wanted to go Roller skating. I have too much invested in the use of my arms to risk breaking one at the moment, so I opted to watch. So did Grandma. My boy decided he preferred electronic amusement. This was his "deal".... He wanted to eat Chinese food for dinner. So patiently he let his sister enjoy her skating.

Grandma took the kids Christmas Shopping, which they loved! (of course!) Didn't even have to wait a few more days to open the gifts - Grandma's "deal"... saves the paper, time and effort wrapping them...

Finally, Chinese food dinner. Which is sort of a tradition in my family of origin. The boy would fit right in to that! The girl settled for some sushi and some dessert.

It was a nice day of family time and learning about "reciprocal relationships"...

Thank You, God for applicable life lessons stuck right in the midst of some fun!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ahhhh.... Break!

It's Christmas break! YEA!

We're looking forward to some downtime, hanging out with Grandma.

I'm looking forward to a few "no alarm clock" days.

I am so grateful for this time of year. A little break. A pause. A time to reflect on what is important.

And then.... A new beginning.

Thank You God for new beginnings.

Friday, December 17, 2010


Tonight was the "belt ceremony" for the adult class... (have I said before how much I love that class...?) SOOOOOO do....

Three more months of hard work, and a bunch of strain on my left ankle and foot. But... surprisingly enough, taking care of it - stretching, being mindful of it, supporting it has helped it to heal. I can't go and full-fledged "rest" it, because, well, I'm much too stubborn for that. But I am doing what I can, it is improving....

Anyhow, I am now a purple belt. Tomorrow night, my daughter will receive her purple belt as well - and my son his red belt!

I am so grateful that we are able to do this together as a family. I am so grateful for the positive characteristics and lifestyle habits that we are developing.

Thank You, thank You, Thank You, God for bringing it into our lives....

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Preparing for Grandma

The next bit of excitement coming our way is GRANDMA! She is due to arrive today. Well... depends on what the storm does. It may be Friday - so she doesn't have to drive right through the midst of it,.... Mountains of West Virginia and all.

The kids are excited. I am excited.

There is much to do.... collect my van, prepare the house.... but hey.... it's all good. We can "prepare" when she gets here as well.

Safe journey for my mother, as she ventures out to visit us!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Preparing for Ice

So, one thing I've learned in my time living here in the South, is there is not much to do about ice. Except, of course to prepare.

I was pleasantly surprised to find milk and bread at the grocery store - but perhaps I hit the timing just right - I don't think the FULL FLEDGED warnings had emerged, AND, perhaps people were still well stocked following our recent snow 'storm'.

I have to admit, there is still a little Yankee part of me that giggles at the thought of school being canceled for an inch of snow (or a threat of snow). BUT, there is also the realistic part of me that has seen the real dangers on the roads following the snow.

AND, I have seen that snow and ice - and even 'wintery mix' - are very different. So, as I read my "alert" on my phone, calling for perhaps a 1/4 inch of ice to arrive in this area, I began to think: Do I have food? Yes. Do I have food that does not need to be cooked? Not so much. Flashlights? Yes. Alternate heat? Yes (have I mentioned how much I love my fireplace yet??) Fully charged cell phones? Will do.

And that is all I can do. The rest is up to God. He knows whether we'll get snow or rain - or ice. He'll know how long it will last and the effects it will have to this area.

I can prepare, but I have to leave the outcome to Him.

I can also pray that he keeps us all safe...

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Low Key

We enjoyed a pretty low key day.... the snow had stopped, and the kids waited excitedly for mom to wake up and get dressed! There was sledding to be done!

But, unfortunately for them, though the inch and a half of snow had kept them out of school, the wind had blown the snow off of the best sledding hill known as Linnwood Lane.

We came in and had hot chocolate and aside from some gift wrapping and nap in the chair (by the fire!) with my girl-child - which I might add was the highlight of the day from a Mom-perspective! - the day was very low key.

Grateful for that. I needed one.

(oh, and the other bit if 'productive' for the day - I gave the mechanic the A-OK to fix the van)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Not as I Had Planned

So... it was a day that did not go as I had planned.

It started with my minivan dying on the interstate. I fear it is a horribly fatal death and not a resurrectable one.... but we shall see... perhaps the mechanic will be in tomorrow to pronounce it's fate. Perhaps not. It snowed.

I was on my way to my son's baptism. He was to be baptized at his dad's church. When his dad picked me up - because fortunately, the van died right near there - he let me know that he would ALSO be baptized. wow.

The drive home - in a borrowed standard-shift pick up truck (had to pull that skill set out from the far recesses of my brain....) - was draining. It had snowed and was snowing. The roads were slick, and I was in a vehicle that wouldn't have been my first choice to drive.

BUT... when I look back. It couldn't have been more perfectly timed. Really. Yes, it would have been delightful for the van to still be running... but...

If it had to die, it couldn't have been in a better place, at a better time. And, if I have to buy a new one.... which I very well may.... once I wrap my brain around having a car note, it'll all be good.

AND... No school because of the snow.... wahoo!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Gift of Time

I was given the gift of Time. Really, I'm using my Thanksgiving holiday... but it has been such a gift.

Time to sort through piles of clothes that are too small for my children - sorting them to groups to distribute to others.

Time to make another batch of my grandmother's cookies.

Time to move some things around, and time to throw some things out.

It's a day I've been anticipating for a while.... and it has been a joy.

I should even have some time to ready before I call it a night.

Yea God!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Connecting the Dots

"Let me connect the dots for you...."

It's a phrase I hear often, as he explains how two things are linked together.

It's also a phrase I feel like God is showing me lately. Things are inter-related - or perhaps parallel each other in a way that they sort of "mirror" each other. Sometimes the changes are easier to make in the mirrored image. But, when they are done, they also help to break the chains in their paralleled scenario.

This connects to that, which relates to the other thing. As one area heals and grows, so does the whole.

Movies portray a hope of a future, and face to face conversations seem to encourage both.

Dots are connected, pictures become whole. And once the image is clear, choices can be made more confidently and with greater assurance that they are correct decisions.

There is hope and God speaks clearly as He connects the dots in my life.

Chains are broken. Steps are taken. Wounds are healed. Lives are changed.

Thank You for connecting the dots....

Friday, December 10, 2010

Peace and Contentment

Peace and contentment is where I find myself at this moment.... in front of the fire, no less! It's been my favorite place of late.

The day itself hasn't been all peace and contentment. This morning was a mental battle in MMA. I alternated between "I know this is good for me", "push yourself", "You're getting stronger!" and "OK, Jesus... now would be a good time to return." It helped that the person on the other side of the bag was enthusiastic and I was motivated to continue on with gusto.

And then, there was art class - helping at the school. Then a house full of kids before the kids karate (and my time behind the desk at the karate school). Wrapping it up with The Bedtime Routine.

And now - after some time finishing up the Christmas cards - there is peace. Quiet. Solitude. Warmth. Shelter. Contentment.

Ah, yes....

Thank You, God....

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sending Cards

It's that time of year again.... Christmas cards!

I love it.

I will admit, I do send a lot of cards...but... I also love it when I *receive* cards as well. It's an interesting list of recipients. There are friends from high school, friends from college. Church friends, neighborhood friends. There is a woman who was my camp counselor, and there is a woman who was my camper. There are college professors, high school teachers. My high school boyfriend's grandmother, and an ex's step-father. And, the man who bought my house when I got divorced.

As I sit and place picture-cards in envelopes, and attach address labels and return address labels on each card, I think back through the years. I remember the person and how they have impacted my life. I wonder what each person is up to - especially those I haven't heard from since last Christmas. As I seal it, I say a quick prayer that the card will find them healthy, happy and aware of the blessings in their lives.

It takes some time, but I love the moments I receive as I open the cards, read the holiday letters and get updates from those people who have touched my life through the years.

Thank You, God, for all those You have sent beside me.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Nap...

I have come to enjoy "The Nap".

Inevitably, I sit down by the fire on these cold, cold days, and I am lulled into this deep restful state. Some days it's just a few moments of closed eyes, another day, it was a full 30 minutes with my legs swung over the arm of the chair and a half.

It's wonderful.

Who knew...?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


It sure has taken a turn toward winter. It's frosty in the mornings and we even had some flurries this past Sunday.

It makes me wonder what kind of winter we'll have. My kids (and I!) hope that we'll have one (or two!) days where we can really sled like we did last year. That was really a lot of fun! It's not a typical Tennessee thing to do, so the fact that we got to was VERY special!

I like the bits of cold - the briskness in the air. I like the flurries. But I also like the fact that typically it gets ABOVE freezing during the day - "typically". Doesn't look that way for this upcoming week. But only God knows for sure.

I'm grateful for our house. That we have heat and shelter. We have warm clothes and warm food.

We are truly, truly blessed!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Quite Time By The Fire

I spent some time this afternoon sitting by the fire, in my big comfy chair and a half. My daughter joined me, as I sprawled my legs over one arm, my head on the other. There we both slept.

It was one of those delightful moments. I look forward to more of them as the hustle and bustle of the season slows a bit. Already I can see the calendar having a LITTLE more empty space in the boxes.

Yes, there will be another rush of excitement as grandma arrives and we celebrate receiving new karate belts... But then, it comes to a crashing halt!

In the mean time, I hope to spend more moments like I had this afternoon. Quiet time by the fire. Peaceful. Joyful. Still.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Gatherings

It's funny to think about it, actually.... for me. ME! ha...

I remember the first time I opened my home.... it was "the womb house"... over Labor Day a group of people I'd never met before...

I am an introvert - and rather shy, so inviting people to my home does not come naturally. What comes naturally is curling up with a book - or perhaps now, a web-browser - and spending a quiet evening to myself.

But when I moved to this house... that very first Christmas-time.... I felt the urging to open my house again. Once again, it was mostly people I didn't know.

Through the years, it has become a "tradition".... and I love it! I have also enjoyed watching the gathering evolve. As the kids have grown, they have become more participatory, and a "kid party" has emerged. They snack and play as the adults snack and talk.

It's something I look forward to every year.... it gets written on the calendar in early to mid fall... and every year, I sit back and think....

huh.... my house. No way. :)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

The Girl Party

Whoever said Girls are subdued and refined doesn't remember them at 9 years old!

They burp (at least!) as much as boys their age, and they're just as active.... They DO *plan* a party a little more than the boys did.... as evidenced by the suitcase of "hot" shoes that one of them brought for the Celebrity Wedding game.

The other thing that girls bring to the table that the boys didn't is the SHRIEKING! Seriously. Ouch.

I've officially celebrated this year with both children now. Last of the single digit years.

It has gone quickly.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Little Details

I'm catching up on some of the "little details" in life....

As each of them gets taken care of, I realize that life becomes more and more enjoyable and productive.

I also realize that details are important... very important!

Thank You, God, for focusing in on the details of my life and being an active participant there!!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

" Believe "

It seems to be a theme for me... and it comes out FULL FORCE this time of year. Seems everywhere I look there is that word "Believe".

I gravitate toward it.... and it seems to find me.

" Believe " encourages me.... challenges me.... inspires me.

I decided a few years ago to leave the "Tis the season for Believing" up all year 'round. Cause it is.

It's a good reminder for me...

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas....

We are getting the decorations up and things are starting to feel like Christmas.

I've created the list of "to do's" that need to happen in the next 3 weeks before school is out...

The time will fly, I know it will....

Yet, in the midst of the hustle and bustle of what is The Christmas Season, I find myself having those moments of "ahhhhh...."

Those moments of snuggling a child.... or a cat. Sitting by the fire for just a few minutes.... An evening where "EVERYTHING" doesn't have to be done "RIGHT NOW!"....

I like that...

I also like the fact that despite the pace that the next few weeks will try to initiate, the decorations, and the excited anticipation remind me of what we are REALLY waiting for....

Not so much Christmas-the-21st-Century-holiday, but Christmas-the-birth-of-the-King....

There is Joy in that... and Peace in that.... and much Love in that....