Monday, December 31, 2007

Sixteen Years

I was at Uncle Tellius' house for a New Year's Eve celebration. We had built a bonfire in the backyard, and had marshmallows on hand for toasting once a bed of coals had been established. My neck was still a little sore from the lymph node biopsy done on the 23rd, but I was 19 years old, and at that age, even surgery can't keep you down long.

Mama and Daddy were at Granny and Gramps' house when they got the call from the surgeon. I have no idea what transpired between the time of the call and the time it took them to get to me, but now that I am a parent it must have been excruciating.


An unthinkable diagnosis for your child, yet there it was. If you want to read the whole story, go here. My point today is that it has been 16 years since that New Year's Eve when my life was turned upside down and inside out. If I had been diagnosed 15 years before, my prognosis would have been grim. Although the treatment was not exactly a walk in the park, it saved my life.

I have had sixteen additional years to get an education, get married and have two beautiful children. I have been blessed beyond measure to simply live, and everything else is just extra. My life has been filled with joy, sorrow, love and disappointment. All of the things that each and every person experiences at some point in life, but the difference is my perspective. I think that any person who is faced with their mortality, by whatever means, is changed in an very primal way.

For some, like me, it is for the better. I have an appreciation for life that has nothing to do with how much stuff I have or how many friends surround me. I appreciate my life simply because I am alive. Each breath is a gift and although I wish I could say that I have not wasted a bit of time on things that are unimportant, I can't. Understanding how vaporous our lives really are in the grand scheme of things, doesn't change the fact that I am a human being with vices and unlovely personality traits. But when the time comes to choose stuff over relationships or job over family, the choice is simple and easy for me.

Beginning on December 31, 1991, my life became a gift. Each moment to be cherished and savored. The things in my life seem so much sweeter, especially knowing that it was God's sovereign will that designed my life this way. Although I couldn't have known the path it would take, He intended my life to be what it is.

So today I thank God for the sixteen years of grace that He granted to me, and I pray that whether the time I have left is short or long that He will be pleased with my life.

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Laced With Grace

If you would like to participate in a great giveaway, go to Laced With Grace and check this out:

Friday, December 28, 2007

My Blog Makeover Has Arrived!!!

bI have been waiting for several months to receive my new blog design from Susie at Bluebird Blogs, and I must say that it was worth the wait! If you are looking for a new design for your blog, I highly recommend Susie. Visit her site and see all of the blogs she has designed.

Let me know what you think!

The Aftermath

It's quiet. The last of the Christmas house guests left moments ago, and the house is still and serene. Well, except for the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix blaring through the surround sound in the living room.

But that sort of noise is normal in our house. The sound generated by eight adults and 3 small children is not, and although I was overjoyed to have the family here for Christmas and beyond, I am a little excited to have my house back in order. We have the weekend to get the kids back on schedule before work and school starts again.

My mom and dad arrived the Saturday evening before Christmas, and then my sister and her husband arrived Sunday night. My brother, his wife and my nephew flew in Monday morning from Virginia, and our numbers were complete. We attended the candlelight service at church Christmas Eve and we had the privilege to sing several carols as a family for the congregation.

When I was growing up, carolling was something we did as a family every year. My mom would spend weeks baking and making candy for the bags we would carry with us to each house and deliver after we sang a carol and then a chorus of We Wish You a Merry Christmas. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, our friends would eagerly inquire as to whether or not we would be carolling that year. I'm not entirely sure if they were looking forward to the four part harmony, or the tasty treats my mom prepared!

After the service, we reminisced with many of those families about the years of carolling and it was good to do it one more time. We are so seldom able to all be together at Christmas as we get older and it was especially sweet this year with the three cousins old enough to play together.

Christmas morning was wonderful with all of the kids excited about opening gifts and running around like little monkeys all morning. We had a very simple lunch of ham, chicken and cornbread dressing and broccoli and cauliflower with a cheese sauce. Easy to prepare and easy to clean up! Amber and David left right after lunch, because they both had to work the next day and had to get back to Louisiana, but Mama and Daddy stayed through Thursday. Patrick, Ronna and Benjamin were the last to leave today and it was a bittersweet day. I was looking forward to having the peace, quiet and order back, but at the same time dreading the time when they would leave us.

All in all a wonderful Christmas and one that we will remember for many years to come. There is nothing like being surrounded by family, especially when we are all believers and understand the miracle and necessity of the manger, as well as the cross. I praise and thank God for my family and for the love and support that they give me. My life is much sweeter with them in it.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

The Glorious Impossible

See the Virgin is delivered
In a cold and crowded stall;
Mirror of the Father's glory
Lies beside her in the straw.
He is Mercy's incarnation
Marvel at this miracle!
For the Virgin gently holds
the Glorious Impossible.

Love has come to walk on water,
Turn the water into wine,
Touch the leper, bless the children
Love both human and divine.
Praise the wisdom of the Father
Who has spoken through his Son.
Speaking still, He calls us to
the Glorious Impossible.

Glorious Impossible

He was bruised for our transgressions
And he bears eternal scars.
He was raised for our salvation
And his righteousness is ours.
Praise, oh, praise him, praise the glory
Of this lavished grace so full.
Lift your souls now and receive
the Glorious Impossible!

Glorious Impossible

Praise, oh, praise him, praise the glory
Of this lavish grace so full.
Lift your souls now and receive
the Glorious Impossible.

I thank the Lord for things that are beyond my comprehension, including (but not limited to) the Virgin birth, the sacrifice of His Son to cover sin for all time, and the fact that He chose me to be a recipient of His grace. The manger means nothing without the cross, and I thank God for both of them today.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Cranium Games

I must take a moment to wish the inventor and creator of all things Cranium a very Merry Christmas, and the hope that they are very, very rich, because they deserve to be.

I have yet to play a Cranium game that I didn't like. Even the children's games are engaging enough that I'm not drowning in a puddle of my on drool from falling asleep mid-play. Seriously, Guess Who and Chutes and Ladders make me want to jump off a tall building.

Anyhoo, Nathan received Cadoo from Trevor's parents this Christmas, and the adults are enjoying it almost as much as he is! It's basically the original Cranium game, but it is designed for children. It still has all of the categories of the original, but it's easier and there are a few added quirks. For instance, one of the cards requires the player to go find two items before the time runs out. A few thing that I retrieved were:

  • something requiring batteries.

  • something you can pick up with your toes.

  • something you can see through

  • something with eyes.

There also these really fun decoder glasses that you have to use to read the answer or secret word on each card. Nathan really got a kick out of those!

The box says seven and up, but Nathan is six and was able to play just fine. He needed occasional help with the reading, but otherwise he held his own. I would highly recommend this game for those parents out there who find it necessary to take a Xanax (or other suitable prescription drug) when their child begs for "just one more" game of Sorry or Trouble.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The First Born

I was sitting in my chair yesterday, when a paper airplane flew into my lap. I turned around to see Nathan grinning from ear to ear. (Making paper airplanes has become something of an obsession for him recently)

I was instructed to open it, and on the inside was written:

I love you being my mom!

Talk about a heart-melting, hug-inducing, tear-welling moment!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tiny Talk--Christmas Edition

These are the answers given by Nathan, age 6:

1. Why do we celebrate Christmas? For God’s birthday.
2. What would you like for Christmas? Light saver (That would be a light saber, and he has a really cool one under the tree as we speak!)
3. What is your favorite Christmas decoration in our house? The breakable ones. (Heaven help me!)
4. Why do we give presents? To be thankful.
5. What should daddy buy mommy? New pencils. (I should probably add that he was holding a brand, spanking new pencil in his hand when he offered that one up. Can you say "one track mind"?)
6. What should mommy buy daddy? Cool glasses.
7. Why was there no room at the inn? Because it was already full of people. (I wish a had a picture of the "duh" look on his face)
8. What gifts did the wise men bring? A cup and something. (We will be reviewing the Christmas story in great detail over the next few days)
9. How does Santa find our house? A map
10. Do you think you've been good so Santa will bring you a present? Yes. (Somehow I am not surprised by this answer!)
11. How does Santa make it to all of the houses? 'Cause he’s so fast.
12. How did Santa get so fat? It’s either his clothes or he eats alot. (I know from personal experience that it's just my clothes.)
13. What are Santa's favorite cookies? Chocolate chip. (That's my boy!)

These are the answers given by Grace, age 3:

1. Why do we celebrate Christmas? Because we get presents. (Again...a lonngggg talk about the meaning of Christmas is in order.)
2. What is your favorite food/treat to eat at Christmas time? Goldfish. (Hmmm...not my first choice)
3. What would you like for Christmas? Um um um...a jumping choo choo train. (I fear that she will be disappointed Christmas morning, because we have no idea what this is!)
4. What is your favorite Christmas decoration in our house? A Christmas tree light on.
5. What songs do you like to sing at Christmas time? Jingle Bells.
6. How does Santa find our house? In his a red car.
7. What are Santa's favorite cookies? Pretty cookies.
8. What are those white things we like to toast over the fire? Smarshmallows!

We had fun trying to get these videos of them singing...apparently singing is "too hard" according to Gracie in the first snippet.......

For more Tiny Talk, go here.

Christmas Tour of Homes

Boomama is doing a tour of homes this Christmas, and I thought it would be fun to participate. I love the Willow Tree figurines, and last year got this Nativity set as a gift.

Here is the tree, a complete hodge-podge of Christmas ornaments from years past. When I left home, my mom gave me all of the ornaments that were mine to start my own tree. I started the tradition of giving my children an ornament every Christmas so that when they fly the nest, they will have a collection to take with them too.

I have double frames that hold Nathan and Grace's first picture with Santa as well as the one from the current year. It's fun to compare them each year....

I love my piano, and it makes a great place to display my Christmas snow globe collection. I can't wait for my family to get here so we can sing!

Last, but not least, here is my fireplace. My grandfather made the mantle, and the bricks were hauled here to the Lone Star State from Louisiana. They were from the home of my great-grandfather and when my parents remodeled the house when I was in 6th grade, we painstakingly chipped all of the old mortar off of them, and scrubbed them with a wire brush so that they could be made into a new fireplace. You can't see it in the picture, but my parents had the hearth built the exact height of a chair so it's very comfortable to sit on. (In case you are wondering why I live in the house where I grew up, Trevor and I bought it from my parents when they decided to move back home to Louisiana)

(Here's a picture from last year that shows the entire fireplace):

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Nativity Story

The other night, we realized that we couldn't hear Gracie which usually translates into water on the bathroom floor or markers being used on an inappropriate surface. I called her name to see where she was, only to discover that she was sitting right behind me at the counter. (Let's not even get started on the fact that I was too lazy to turn around in my comfy chair to do a visual sweep of the living area before I called out for her)

I asked her what she was doing (still not turning around to see for myself), and she replied:

"Playing with God."

That got me turned around in my chair pretty quickly! I turned to see her quietly playing with the childrens Nativity that I have out for them. After I finished laughing (quietly) into my pillow, I realized that she understood that Jesus is God, and that just made my Christmas.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Leah's Recipe Exchange

I've joined Leah's Recipe Exchange and finally posted a few favorites if you are interested in visiting and/or contributing to the exchange....

I've Been Faking It the Whole Time

I have a confession. You may find this to be a little shocking considering my love of all things Christmas. The lights, the songs, the food, the company. The whole enchilada, if you will.

So here it is. Deep breath.........

I no longer have to pretend like I know what White Christmas is about, nodding my head in apparent agreement when someone calls it a classic so people won't doubt my declaration that Christmas is my favorite holiday. Behaving as though, I too ,watch it faithfully every year.

I finally watched it for the very first time last night. I though of Karen the whole time, and must agree that it is a great holiday movie. It was quite enjoyable and I will be adding it to the long list of must-see movies next year. OK, maybe I'm not going that far, but at least I don't have to maintain the fake aura of authenticity when the subject comes up.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Christmas Meme

I found this meme over at Alana's blog, and thought I would join in the fun...

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
I mostly use wrapping paper because I get a perverse sense of satisfaction out of seeing all of the neatly wrapped gifts of varying sizes under the tree. The general messiness of the gift bag ensemble offends my occasional OCD, but I do use them for oddly shaped gifts that won't fit properly in a box. Better a gift bag with tissue paper sticking out of the top than a weird shaped box messing up my Christmas tree symmetry.

2. Real tree or artificial?
I grew up with a real tree and swore that I would never stoop to the level of purchasing a fake tree. It was just too tacky to think about, but then I had Nathan. You know how overprotective we tend to be about the firstborn. Well, the thought of him crawling around and eating pine needles that would then form a clog in his tiny intestines was too much for me to bear, so I broke down and bought an artificial tree. When both kids reached the age where pine needles were not appetizing fare, I decided that I wanted a real tree again. I loved the smell, but had forgotten the hassle of watering the stinking thing and vacuuming pine needles twice a day. So this year, I bought a beautiful pre-lit tree and will purchase a real wreath for the smell!

3. When do you put up the tree?
I like to put it up the day after Thanksgiving. This stems from the years of being single and driving home from my parent's house Thanksgiving night. I would stop and purchase my tree that night and decorate it the next day.

5. Do you like eggnog?
Let's see....a "beverage" that looks like melted ice cream? I think not.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
My complete set of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books.

7. Do you have a nativity scene?

Yes, a nice one for the living room and one for the playroom.

8. Easiest person to buy for?
Nathan and Grace. It's simple to get presents for them when they are little. I'm sort of dreading the coming years when they get older and everything they want is really expensive. They are still little enough to be happy with basically anything I give them.

9. Hardest person to buy for?
Trevor. Everything he wants is either stupid expensive or so practical that I would be embarrassed to actually give it to him as a gift. The good news is that we are not much on giving gifts to each other anyway. Most anniversaries and birthdays go by with just a card and a little extra money in our individual fun accounts to be spent at our discretion. It's just better that way.

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
I'm going to have to plead the 5th here as to not offend any gentle readers.

11. Mail or e-mail Christmas cards?
When I actually send them, it's by mail. I used to send them out every year by the 1st of December, but then I missed a year and it snowballed from there. I think this year is the first since 2002 that I have sent them out!

12. Favorite Christmas movie?
I enjoy all of the Christmas animated programs simply for the nostalgia. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Frosty the get the picture.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
I usually start shopping right after Halloween. I like to have everything wrapped and ready to put under the tree when I decorate. I typically shop throughout December for odds and ends, but the majority of my shopping is done by December 1st.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
No. I figure that if it was so tacky that I don't want it, then neither does anyone else.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Seriously. You expect me to pick one thing?

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree?
I grew up with colored lights, and love going home and seeing my mom's tree all lit up that way, but I put white lights on my own tree. I also love to see colored lights on houses (sans inflatable yard decorations and tacky wooden painted angels) when it is simple, but I put white lights on my own house.

17. Favorite Christmas song?
Again, you expect me to pick just one?!! I love Joy to the World as well as Come Thou Long Expected Jesus.

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
Before I had kids, I didn't mind traveling to see family and friends. It was fun to get away for a little vacation during the holidays. But when we had Nathan, we decided that we would spend Christmas at home so that we could start our own traditions and so our children would have memories of waking up in their own house Christmas morning.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?
Yep....I won't bore you with the list here, but rest assured that I would totally get that Jeopardy question right!

20. Angel on the tree top, or a star?
A star. For years, my mom put the original aluminum wrapped cardboard star that my dad made for their first Christmas tree on top, but then one year decided that she would buy a beautiful angel to top the tree. It was the year of the great debate. The outcome was that they would alternate years...the star, then the angel. It finally evolved into the angel on top and the star somewhere on the tree. When I had my first tree, I made an aluminum star (I sided with my dad on this one). I don't know what happened to that star, but I have a store-bought one now.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or Christmas morning?
My family opens gifts on Christmas morning, but Trevor's family does it on Christmas Eve.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
Political correctness. Well, I guess this bothers me all year long, but especially around Christmas. Christmas is a religious holiday. We are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Just because you want to put on the trappings of Christmas and then complain because you don't believe in all of that "religious stuff", doesn't change the fact that the holiday exists because of all that "religious stuff". Get over it.

23. What I love most about Christmas?
Singing Christmas hymns around the piano with my family, and then reading the Christmas story from the book of Luke by candlelight. I love Christmas Eve because when I am with my family, there is no present opening. Just a time of worship and fellowship.

Now it's my turn to tag a few people. Please step forward as your name is called:
Heather, Lisa, Leah, Karen and Sue.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

She's Not a Baby Anymore

This came home with Gracie today....

Conversations From the Back Seat

We were out shopping Sunday after church, and we decided to get lunch before we went here.

Me: (In my most upbeat, encouraging voice) Who wants Chinese food?

Nathan: Not me. I want Mexican. (my sweet little Texas boy)

Me: But this is one of Mommy's favorite restaurants. Let's just try it out, ok?

Nathan: Can we get pork chops?

Me: Huh?

Nathan: You know, pork chops.

Me: Well, they don't usually serve pork chops at Chinese restaurants, baby.

Nathan: (With a look sure to make me realize my utter stupidity) Not to eat! You know...the things you eat with!

Me: (struggling not to laugh as I realized what he meant) Do you mean chopsticks?

Nathan: Yes ma'am.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Pictures With Santa

We got up early. We drove 30 minutes to the nearest mall. We arrived way too early and had to burn some time driving around and running a few errands. We stood in line 30 minutes. We had several incidents requiring hand squeezing and stern reprimands during the 30 minute wait. Here are the results:

That's right. All of the preparation and planning were for naught. Gracie saw him coming and immediately started crying. She buried her head in my shoulder and refused to even look at him. All she would say is, "I don't like him!" Poor Santa. I hope his feelings weren't hurt.