Friday, December 30, 2011

2012 New Year's Resolutions

It's not quite 2012 yet, but I have been thinking about New Year's Resolutions for a few days. Here are some of my plans for the coming year.

1. (I'm stealing this from my friend, Rachel!!!) Make 2 recipes & 1 craft per month that I've pinned on Pinterest. Feel free to follow my boards here. That is, unless you haven't fallen into the vortex that is yet. In which case, you may want to run far, far away. And fast. It's such an addictive website. (But at least it's a useful addiction---so many awesome crafts, projects, organization ideas, recipes and MORE!)

2. Continue serving at least 1 meat-free meal per week (think vegetarian). It's healthy and it's money-saving!

3. Continue in my journey to better health --- eat better, exercise more, drink more water, etc.

4. Read more! As of now, these are the books I have on hand that I plan to read or re-read or finish reading. (You may have to click the pictures to blow them up & see the book titles better.)

5. Continue reading my Bible through. (Yes, STILL working on getting totally through the Bible. I suppose it should rank higher on this list than all the other books!!)

6. Scripture memory --- I'm not going to set a particular goal like "1 verse per week", but I most definitely want to do more of this. I love it when the Spirit brings to mind a verse I've memorized in the PAST and I'm able to use it in my life NOW. Anyone have any particular Scripture memory goals/plans that you'd like to share?

7. Take more pictures. I snap lots of pictures with my cell phone & plan to get a new phone in January (when I'm up for an upgrade) so those pictures will be getting clearer & sharper. But I am referring to pictures with my regular camera. I need to get it out more & rely less on my cell phone to take pictures.

8. Take off my make up every night before bed.

9. Begin a year-long journal for Larry, listing reasons I am thankful for him each day. (Yes I know what you're thinking....and trust me, he never reads my blog so he won't see this. And even if he does, I can guarantee he will forget about this by next Christmas! ha ha!)

10. Give more. This year has been extraordinarily difficult financially. We are finally seeing the light at the end of that tunnel. It's not perfect & we won't ever be rich, but I am looking forward to having the ability to bless other people more often.

11. More hugs & kisses. We're a pretty touchy-feely-snuggly-huggy sort of family anyway, but more is better.

12. Send more snail mail. I love getting cards and letters in the mail. This year I'm going to send more of them! Join me! Everyone likes getting mail.

I'm sure I'll think of more goals later, but for now, these are my goals/resolutions for the new year. What are yours?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas 2011 Wrap-up

Christmas has come & gone. It is truly hard to believe because this year has gone by so fast. I know I say that every year, but it seems like it just gets faster & faster every year!

Here is a quick wrap-up of what our Christmas looked like.

The weekend after Thanksgiving we decorated for Christmas. I take the same few pictures of the kids every year so that I can compare from year to year how much they've grown.

This is 2010:

And this is 2011:

A couple weeks before Christmas, we went to our little town's parade. Larry had to work that day, but the kids & I enjoyed it!

A few days later, Samuel performed in his school choir concert.

On Christmas Eve, we attended the candlelight service at our church. It was beautiful!

These are the Christmas cards we received. I love getting cards any time of year (and I love buying & sending them, too!!!) but I really, really love Christmas cards! Next year I'm going to try to pull off photo cards.

As you may remember from previous years (if you've been around, reading my blog for that long!) we spend our first waking moments on Christmas morning focusing on Jesus. The kids all sleep in one room the night before and we don't allow them to leave the room (because you can see into the living room where all the gifts are) until after we read the Christmas story from Luke 2 and have a party for Jesus. We want to make sure that their focus is where it should be (the birth of Jesus) before we let them begin to open gifts & move their focus to that.

Fortunately, they LOVE this tradition & fight over who gets to read the story from the Bible each year. (Sarah won!)

I only took a few pictures of the kids opening their gifts on Christmas morning. I'm not sure why....I just didn't get very many taken. We began a new tradition this year in regard to their gifts and they all liked it. A few months ago, we told the kids that they would each be getting only 3 gifts because that's what Jesus got. The kids were allowed to give us a list of 5-10 things that they'd like to get.....OR.....they could choose to get the money we had budgeted for buying those gifts. Only 1 of the kids chose to get the money instead of having things to open on Christmas morning. (but I'm a big softie & couldn't stand the idea of her having NOTHING to open, so she did get one little Santa gift!) The kids all really enjoyed getting 3 things that they really wanted! No one seemed to "miss" the extra gifts they usually get and for that, I am grateful!

And again, to compare our annual Christmas Eve pictures, here is 2010:

And here is 2011:

I hope your family had a wonderful Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Oh Night Divine

Tonight we went to our church's candlelight Christmas Eve service. It was beautiful as those services always are. It's always such a sweet, reverent time of quiet worship. Something struck me tonight that I haven't really ever considered before.

While we were singing "Oh Holy Night" (my very favorite Christmas song, by the way, one I've heard a million times), I had this vivid image of what it would've been like to be alive on the night Jesus was born.

Picture this.

You're 30-something-years old. Literally your whole life, you've heard stories about the Messiah. You learned the prophecies as a child. You've been taught about what it would mean when He came. You've been told that He would be the Savior, the one to redeem us, the one to pay the price for our sins. No more sacrifices to atone for sins. The Savior is coming -- He will be born of a virgin. But it's been so long. You've begun to think that maybe it was all just a story, a legend. After all, you've heard a lot of other stories throughout your life as well. But no... this one is true. There is a sacredness in the voice of each person who has taught you about His coming all your life. Each teacher lent a holiness to the story as you learned about the coming Messiah. It must be real.

Then one night during the census, you hear a murmur in the crowded city streets, something about a baby. The people are bustling about, pressing through the busyness of the evening, running toward the stable.

What is this? A baby? Born in a barn? It's HIM? You mean it's happened? He's HERE? Tonight?

Goosebumps rise on your arms, your heart pounds. You, too, begin to press through the crowd. You've got to SEE Him! As you reach the edge of town and begin to walk across the grassy field, tears begin to trickle down your cheeks and you find that you can't put thoughts together, you simply must SEE Him. You feel such shame that you ever questioned whether or not it would really happen.

You look up & see a huge star, brighter than the rest, shining down on the stable. There are animals & people crowded around the stable where the baby must be. It's then that you realize you're running. Stumbling over twigs and rocks on the ground, you trip & fall, but quickly claw your way back to a standing position & continue to sprint toward the stable. You must SEE Him!

As your heart beats in your throat and your stomach twists into a knot, you get a glimpse over the crowd. It's Him! The most beautiful baby boy is laying in the manger. He's wrapped in strips of cloth and is snuggled down into the hay, sleeping peacefully as the people press in around Him. As you approach, you feel your breath quicken. Your quiet tears turn to wails as you fall on your knees beside Him.

He is here!

O holy night, the stars are brightly shining;
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary soul rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees, O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born!
O night, O holy night, O night divine!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Friday Phone Dump

It's that time of the week again! Time to empty your phones onto your blog & let us all see your week in pictures. Link back here & leave me a comment so I can come check out your pictures. Here's my week!

Sarah fixed my hair today. Isn't it lovely? (grin)

Remember those 4 canvases I mentioned a few posts back that I was going to paint & hang in my bedroom? This was step one---just getting the 4 colors on them. The red one is not nearly as tomato-red as it appears here and the yellow isn't quite as mustard-yellow as it looks here. They had a 2nd coat added to them after this and I've done a little artwork on each one. I'm not done yet, but I will show you more later as I get them completed. I'm not 100% happy with them, though, so they may end up in the trash. We'll see.

Major accomplishment. Anyone who knows me well & has been in my house (& allowed to peer into my master closet/laundry/bathroom area) will know THIS area is NEVER completely clear like this. To be able to see the floor like this straight through to the back is a miracle of epic proportions. It means that I've folded ALL of the laundry! (It usually sits in baskets right here until I can get it folded!)

Looking forward to making this & letting the kids decorate it tomorrow! It's that time of year. Time to get our party on for Jesus!

A couple of days ago, we hit Sonic during happy hour. While we waited for our 1/2 price drinks, I opened the sunroof. Before I could blink, Samuel was climbing up & out of it!

After the girls' annual eye exam (dilated eyes & everything---pics below!) we stopped at a new frozen yogurt place in town to try it out. It was yummy (but a little expensive like every other froyo place!)

This is Savannah's yogurt. She's such a simple girl. Cheesecake flavored yogurt with some cheesecake bites on top.

This is Sarah's. She's still pretty easy to please but has a hard time narrowing down her choices of toppings. It took her 10 minutes to decide which flavor of yogurt to get. She ended up getting cookies & cream flavored yogurt with cheesecake bites & Reese's PB cup bits.

This is mine. I have no issues picking my yogurt flavor or toppings, obviously. Cheesecake flavored yogurt with cheesecake & brownie bites, white chocolate chips & a tiny drizzle of caramel.

And then THIS is Samuel's. You never would've guessed would you? ha ha!!! (It includes 3 flavors of yogurt, Reese's PB bits, M&Ms, Gummy bears, Gummy Worms, chocolate chips & chocolate syrup.) The boy is serious about his sugar!

Sarah after having her eyes dilated.

Savannah after having her eyes dilated.

Sarah is so cool. She took this pic herself & texted it to Larry while he was at work asking "How cool am I?"

Earlier this week, the girls & I rang bells for the Salvation Army. So much fun!

Once a year is all I can stand it. So good but SOOOO rick & soooo high in fat & calories.

While we waited at the car wash (Larry was vacuuming out the van), the kids explored the bars at the back of the property. And just so ya know, Samuel was about 6-8 feet behind Sarah. The angle of this pic makes it look like he's TEENY TINY. He is shorter than her, but not by as much as it appears here!

The beautiful drive on the way to Larry's side of the family Christmas get together.

Sorry self portrait again this week.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Favorite posts of 2011

I know the year is not over yet, but I was looking back at a few "big" posts from this past year & wanted to share them with you. A recap of the year, if you will. Join me on this walk down memory lane.

January: I was completely stunned & trying to take in just how faithful He is when I wrote THIS. (Thank you for an amazing song, Todd Wright! Not sure how all the copyright stuff goes, so I definitely want to give him credit.)

February: Samuel bridged over into Boy Scouts (from Cub Scouts) & I wrote THIS post (complete with a video) of the ceremony.

March: I was blessed beyond measure by my sweet 4 & 5 year old Sunday School class the day before I wrote THIS post. Their faith & prayers amaze me. And I walked through the incredibly difficult anniversary of losing our 2 extra kiddos when I wrote THIS post.

April: My eyes were opened to some things that I thought were pretty black & white when I wrote THIS post. And I shared my convictions & feelings about how Easter is celebrated by the Church in THIS post.

May: I wrote THIS post after becoming involved in a local ministry to help hungry kids in America. It was eye-opening & wonderful to be a part of it!

June: We made a quick little trip to Dallas for a little mini-vacation. THIS post is about that trip.

July: I wrote what was probably my most read post all year long in July. THIS is that post.

August: Larry & I celebrated our 17th anniversary in August. I wrote THIS post about the 17 reasons I'm glad I married him.

September: Savannah & Samuel were baptized in September. THIS post includes a video.

October: God really used some 'stuff' to encourage me in October. THIS post is about all that stuff.

November: I learned that gratitude turns what we have into enough...and I wrote THIS post about it.

December: In thinking about how Christmas is a hard time of year for a lot of people, I wrote THIS.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pinterest Project #2

I have to say this is my Pinterest project #2 because I didn't post about #1. (It was a recipe for some candy that I made for Christmas goodie trays that I shared with friends & family. You can see the recipe for that project HERE.) So anyway, this post is about project #2.

But I guess I can't really call it a 'project' if it required no real effort or action on my part, though, right? Perhaps it's Pinterest-inspired? Or just a Pinterest idea? Sigh...whatever! Look what we did tonight!

I saw THIS posted on Pinterest & loved the idea. (Go click on THIS over <---there.) It seemed pretty simple & straight forward. But today I looked for similar hooks at Target and there just weren't any. Sure, they had hooks of all shapes & sizes, but nothing that looked like it would work for this project. And I didn't have a board to screw them into. So I left Target empty handed.

And then I got home & found a little decorative knob/hook board thingie. My mom used to have it in her bathroom. When she redecorated, she asked me if I'd like to have it & I said yes. But it's been sitting around ever since waiting for a use. Today was the day!

My ironing board gets used almost every single day. So it's kind of a pain to set up & take down the ironing board over & over. (I'm also kind of lazy, so it's just easier to leave it up all the time.) But even though I'm lazy, it still bugs me that it's sitting out all the time. Like this.

So tonight when I found this little hook/knob board...

I knew it had to become my version of the project on the link above! When Larry got home, I pointed to this blank wall in my laundry room...

and said "Please put this on that wall."

And he did!

See? pretty!
Now if I can just find a PRETTY ironing board cover to hide this ugly thing!

That's my master bathroom through the door to the right. Freezer & laundry is to the left. Giant mounds of clean, but yet to be folded laundry, is directly behind & to the side of where I was standing to take this picture. Nice huh?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Random Thoughts with Liz

It's been a while since I did one of these posts, but tonight it just seems to 'fit'. I've been in a bit of a blog-writing slump here recently. But as much of a dry spell as it's been, I've had a million things bouncing around my brain. I guess I just can't narrow it down so I haven't posted a whole lot. And so...a stream of consciousness post, a random bunch of things. Enjoy your tour of my crazy, loopy, maze-like brain.

*Random thought #1 -- Worship
This song totally rocked my socks off Sunday morning. Aside from the really COOL dulcimer action that our guest band member added, it was just really good. The lyrics, the music, the feeling it evoked. Thank you Todd & all the other band members for the time you put in every week to lead our church family into the presence of God.

*Random thought #2 -- architecture
See the cool cross in the windows of the video above? I love it. Here's the crazy thing. We attended this same church from late '97 to late '04 and I NEVER noticed that cross. The thing was, the chairs faced the left side of the (above) screen at that time & the stage was in a different place. I sat in that same auditorium & listened to 7 years worth of sermons and attended a hundred other events in that room (it was more of a multi-purpose room back then, so we often had other events in the same room during the week). I know I looked at those windows during that time, but I never noticed that the center crossbeams were in the shape of a cross until we came back to this church in the Spring of '09 and the stage/chairs had been moved. I LOVE that it's such a cool focal point to our services now!

*Random thought #3 - Website addiction
I am in love. With Pinterest. There are a thousand pictures on my pinboards already. I'll probably never create 75% of crafts I've pinned. I'll probably never cook 75% of the foods I've pinned. But I love that it inspires me & makes me want to at least attempt to peel back the edges of craftiness. I am probably one of the least crafty women in Texas (aside from the kind of crafts I do with the kids in preschool....THOSE I totally rock at!), but I'd like to be more crafty if I could just figure it out. Today we visited Hobby Lobby to kill some time and I actually purchased 4 8x10 canvases & some acrylic paint and brushes to give it a shot. I'm going to attempt to create a little artwork for our bedroom. We'll see how it turns out. In my head, it looks something like this (minus the goofy flower pictures---I'm doing something different).

In reality, it may turn out looking a little more like this.

*Random thought #4 - holidays
Today the girls and I rang the bell for the Salvation Army. We got off to a rocky start --- the kettle & bell & previous shift ringer were missing --- but we tracked it down & got things jinga-linging along pretty quickly and enjoyed our hour of work. (if you can call it work to stand totally still & ring a bell & smile a lot) Seriously, we had a lot of fun talking to the people as they came by and wishing people a Merry Christmas. I know there are plenty of folks who attempt to avoid eye contact with the bell ringers in front of many stores, but it was such a sweet time to chat with those who obviously just came by to have a conversation with someone.

*Random thought #5 - giving
I keep holding my breath & clenching my teeth this month. I'm not sure how to behave. This is the first month in nearly 3 years that we have made it to the 19th of the month without being overdrawn in our bank account. It's such a weird feeling. I've found that I'm LOOKING for ways to help other people. We've been on the other end of those blessings for nearly 3 years now. I want to give it back to other people. I want to give it back to HIM. I am having to restrain myself from writing checks to all the mission groups we love to hear about & have wanted to support for a long time. We don't have it to spare, though. Not yet. I am soooo excited about the future and soooo looking forward to the day when we can write a check to help fill needs in other places. (Please understand, I'm not saying this to toot my horn & point to myself. I am sharing my heart. I am giddy from the way God's blessed me and I want to bless someone else. Or a lot of someone elses. I want to share how good He is!) After all, it's all HIS to begin with!

*Random thought #6 - reading
I am quickly building a 2012 reading list. I am super excited about reading everything I've got waiting on me! I will be making a post about all those books later.

*Random thought #7 - camera accesories
I really wish I could find a memory card for my camera. The one I've been using for several years died on me a few days ago. The only other one I have only holds about 16-20 pics, so it's very much a TEMPORARY fix! The trouble is, my camera is older & while I LOVE it, the memory cards are a little hard to come by. I've got a bid placed for one on eBay right now. I hope I win!

*Random thought #8 - working out
Since Thanksgiving, I haven't been totally consistent about going to the gym. I "let go" a little after Thanksgiving and just haven't been able to get back on track. I do this every year at about this time and I kick myself at the beginning of January. It's so much EASIER to stay home & sleep late & just hang out with the kids when they're off school for the holidays, but I decided this morning to break that little habit! When the scale was up SEVEN pounds I knew it was time to get off my lazy rump and get back to the gym! I went for about 40 minutes this morning. I had to get home so we could get ready to head out on a day's worth of errands (& ringing the bell) but I did it! Tomorrow will be a little trickier, but I WILL GO TO THE GYM at some point! I must force myself to break the routine of using the holidays as an excuse to relax & let go completely.

*Random thought #9 - thankfulness
I'm so thankful. There are so many little things (and big things!) in my life that I take for granted. So much that so many others don't have. It overwhelms me to even consider the enormity of what I am blessed with. Good health, happy family, amazing friends, incredible church, running vehicles, electricity, running water, yummy food, clothing, appliances, jobs we enjoy, laughter, love........the list could go on & on & on. Thank you, Lord.

*Random thought #10 - I live in a time warp.
My oldest child will be 16 in the Fall. Where has the time gone? Am I living in some sort of crazy time warp where things speed up in relation to my kids? I found myself passing on sage wisdom to my cousin on Saturday about the fact that she's in a stage of life where she's got 4 small children and every minute of the day is HARD. But I told her 'the days are long but the years are short' and I realized that I've somehow reached that stage of my life where I can hand out those little nuggets of wisdom with honesty. They're not just nice-sounding pat answers to life's hard times. They are truth that I have LIVED and I am astounded that I am here now....another reminder of that weird parenting time warp. Seriously folks, if you have babies in your house, DON'T BLINK. Before you know it, it will be over. Savor every moment. Roll it around in your mouth like a good chocolate that you don't want to eat too quickly. Breathe in deeply. It goes by so fast. Don't wish for the next phase of your toddler's development. Don't make them go back to their bed in the middle of the night. Enjoy those snuggles and even the tantrums. It's all over far too quickly.

*Random thought #11 - Christmas
Christmas is almost here. Betcha didn't realize that. ha ha! Seriously, it amazes me that this day sneaks up on us with such speed every year. It is hard for me to believe that it's only a week away. In fact, it is a week from yesterday! Wow. The countdown begins.

This year, we gave our kids the option of receiving only 3 gifts (like what Jesus received at His birth) or the money we had budgeted to spend on each child. Only 1 of the kids requested the money. {But this mama is far too much of a sap to let her get by without ANYTHING to open on Christmas morning. Shhhh! She doesn't know that yet.} I am excited about what our Christmas morning will look like this year.

*Random thought #12 - Newspaper Job for me?
A few months ago, I began reading a column in our local small town newspaper. It was just a short little article by a local mom, usually things about her family or kids or observations on life & things happening in the world around her. (You know...mommy blogger sort of things!) I really enjoyed reading the column so I emailed to share my praise with the author of the articles. She wrote back, happy to find that she had a 'fan'. We planned to meet sometime for a Coke or a burger, but time slipped by quickly and we only talked a few times through email or on Facebook. She began following my blog (Hi Lisa!) and poking her head in with a comment once in a while. Last week, I emailed her to tell her that I enjoyed her article that day. She responded that she would be moving soon and would miss her column-writing for the paper. I was sad to hear that news. But then she surprised me by saying that maybe *I* should contact the newspaper editor about writing for them....essentially to replace her since they'd now have an opening. I was surprised about that, but decided to email the guy & just see what he thought. I wasn't sure if he would want to fill the spot or not, or if he already had plans for what he'd use in place of her column. I sent him a message & included my blog link so he could get a 'taste' for how I write. Within a couple of hours he wrote back & said he wanted to talk to me! We tried to get together on Thursday, but it didn't work out. Hopefully I will be able to talk to him this week. I have no idea what the pay is, how much time it would require of me, whether or not it's something I can do.....really, I have no details at all. But if it works out, how fun would that be?! Who'd have ever thought? Me--a newspaper columnist! What a blast!

I guess that's all the random thoughts for now. I'm getting sleepy & want to go take a bubble bath. I'll share some more random thoughts tomorrow.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Friday Phone Dump ('s Saturday)

It's time to empty all the pictures off your cell phone & share them with the world! (well, it was actually time for that yesterday, but I'm running behind....sorry!) When you post yours, link back here & leave me a comment so I can come check out your pictures. Here's my week in pictures.

One day this week, I decorated Christmas cookies with a student. I made this one. Pretty sad, huh? There's a reason why I'm not a baker or cake decorator.

I created an account on this website that everyone was telling me about a few months ago, but I never got "into" it. I didn't spend much time looking at it and just didn't grasp what the big deal was, even though many of my friends were raving about the site. A few weeks ago, Savannah started telling me about things she'd found (crafts & funny pictures) on Pinterest so I decided I better go back & check it out again to make sure it was safe. And's like a vortex. How quickly you are sucked in! (or at least I was!!!) Apparently I'm not alone. When I mentioned it being addictive on Facebook, I had about 45 "amen" responses. Have you discovered it yet?

I'm really looking forward to reading this book! It came in the mail this week after I found it for .02 on Amazon! I love cheap books! I've been hearing about this one for a while now. It sounds fabulous! Can't wait to get started on it! (But I must finish the 3 I'm in the middle of now first!)

Savannah had a National Honor Society dinner at a local Italian place this week. Since it was a 20+ minute drive to the place and she only planned to stay about an hour, I couldn't justify driving over there and back home only to turn around & go right back 20 minutes after getting home! So Sarah & I stayed and shared a salad and sandwich.

Remember the Christmas Cookie Swap I organized here on the blog? I got my cookies this week! We're all up to our eyeballs in sugar & yumminess right now! How cute is this box that she delivered the cookies in???

One of my favorite Christmas movies....

Fun Christmas craft with my preschool kiddos at a local church. It's a wreath! Cut the center out of a paper plate & glue on little pieces of multi-colored wrapping paper and tissue paper.

My sweet Sarah, waiting for the Christmas parade to begin last Saturday. (No, we didn't give her that bruise on her cheek! She actually did it to herself. Silly girl. Long story.......)

I'm both a little grossed out and fascinated with watching things decompose in our compost pile. Check out the flattened pumpkins that are residing there now! Pretty freaky, huh?

Sarah's weekly silliness with mom's phone. ha ha! I never know what I'm going to find when I scroll through the pictures at the end of the week.

Sorry. No self-portrait this week. I know you're all horribly sad about that. (grin)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas is a very hard time of year.

You hear it every year. Christmas is a hard time for so many people. It's true. Think about it. How many people are facing the unthinkable tonight?

A cancer diagnosis.
The husband who says he has been seeing someone else and wants a divorce.
The child who is dying.
The mother who is trapped inside her mind & body after a major stroke.
A prenatal diagnosis that says the baby's condition will mean lifelong care and ongoing therapies, treatments, surgeries and medicine, assuming they survive at all.
Realizing you're addicted and that it's time to get help.
The devastation of a lost job and facing the holidays (and beyond) with no income.
The first anniversary of burying a newborn.
The child who took her own life because life was just too overwhelming.
The teenager who has stumbled down the wrong path & is using drugs.
The wife who is facing life without her soldier husband after the funeral.
The girl who was raped & is too scared to tell anyone. And now she's pregnant.

And yet, all the while the rest of the world is moving around these people, singing & laughing. Somehow when you're faced with things like this, you just can't get into the spirit and smile much. And people just don't 'get it'.

I heard the song "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year" a few days ago and I have this vivid mental image that has plagued me ever since. It was sort of like a music video that played in my head to that song. All I could think of was a man, bundled up in a thick coat & gloves, trudging down a busy sidewalk with people shoving & hurrying on either side of him, wondering why he's walking so slowly. He's doing all he can to just put one foot in front of the other. The grief and loss he's feeling are overwhelming but the rest of the world seems to still be moving, bustling in & out of stores even though his world seems to be standing still. It's everything he can do to contain the emotions welled up inside himself. Why can't all these people see how hard life is for him right now? Why can't they just slow down and pat him on the back or hold his hand for a minute & give him that little squeeze that says "It'll be ok"? How can they all keep moving along when his world is falling apart? For him, it is most definitely NOT 'the most wonderful time of the year'. In fact, if he hears one more Christmas carol, he may punch someone.

I wonder how many people like this we work with every day. I wonder how many of them share a pew with us at church or drive next to us in the school driveway every morning. I wonder how many of them would never dare to talk about the horrors of their private life so they're bearing these burdens alone.

Please, open your eyes. Look around you. People are hurting. Take the time to show them the love of Jesus this Christmas. A little kindness & compassion go a long way. Pay for their meal, open the door for them, hand them a gift card to get groceries, leave a special treat on their doorstep, stop and pray with them, offer to watch their kids so they can get a little time alone to process what's going on. Wrap their Christmas gifts for them. Wash their car, mow their yard, fold their laundry. Give them a hug. Pat them on the back & make eye contact when you tell them how much they mean to you.

Do something.

After all, Christmas is a very hard time for a lot of people.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Phone Dump

Friday Phone Dump, the time when bloggers everywhere (well, at least the one writing THIS blog!) empty their phones of the week's pictures & take their readers through the week in pictures. Join me! Link back here & then comment so I can go to your site & peek at your pictures. Here's my week!

Last Saturday, Savannah babysat my girlfriend's kids. While they were out playing in the yard, I got a few pictures. It was pretty sweet to see all those silly girls (my own 2 girls included) digging in the dirt, riding in the wheelbarrow and swinging on our swingset. Just about the time your children have outgrown something childlike (digging with spoons & plastic cups), they surprise you by spending half the afternoon doing just that! Perhaps no one ever really outgrows playing in the dirt?

While I watched them play, this little girl came up to visit with me. Really folks, who could possibly say no to this sweet face?

Speaking of girls with sweet faces, this one took a picture or two of herself again this week. ha ha!

On Saturday, while the girls all played on the ground, Samuel climbed the only tree in our yard that has branches low enough to scale them. When I came outside, this was the way I found him standing in the tree. I could hear him thinking "I am the king of the world!" I love my sweet boy!

On Sunday morning, I subbed in the Sunday School class of the Kindergarten kiddos who I co-taught last year when they were 4-5 year olds. Oh how I've missed that crazy bunch of kids! When I first arrived, there was only 1 little girl there yet. She ran over & gave me a big hug & told me how excited she was that I was teaching. (Way to go, sweet sure made this old lady feel welcomed!!!!) She told me she was my best friend and that she was going to teach with me that day. And then she pulled a quarter out of her purse to pay me for teaching! ha ha! Silly goose! When she said she was my best friend, I got out my phone to take our picture. I really didn't have any intention of doing anything with the picture other than texting it to her parents. Instead, she said "No!!! Put it on Facebook!" ha ha!! I complied with her wishes, and now I'm sharing it with you. I love this kiddo!

It sure has been weird to see these things on my hands this week. I haven't had to wear them much & even on the days I did, the need for them wore off quickly. But it is such a novelty to need gloves in Texas, I figured I better document it.

A friend of mine told me about how she'd discovered this Hazelnut creamer for her coffee this week. She was not a coffee drinker at all, but this creamer had made her want to try coffee just to get to use the creamer....and she described it as tasting like "Christmas in a cup". I don't like coffee, but I knew I'd like the hazelnut flavor since I love the scent and have enjoyed some hazelnut hot chocolate before. So I bought some. And ya know what? Making my own hazelnut hot chocolate at home tonight was heavenly! Thank you for the suggestion, Tara!!

THIS, however was not a suggestion of Tara's. It's my once a year indulgence. I love this stuff on a sandwich with peanut butter! YUM!

This next picture really deserves to be at the top of the page! It's one of my most prized posessions! Yes, I know the cover is falling off of my Bible, but there is a reason I'm sticking with this particular Bible for a little while longer.

Larry gave me this Bible as a gift in 2001. I decided then that it was high time for me to read the Bible straight through, cover to cover. I had heard a sermon by our then pastor that was very convicting and reminded me of the importance of finally making this journey through the Word from Genesis to Revelation. And so it began, reading through the Bible 1-2 chapters at a time. Unfortunately over the years, I have read other books, worked through numerous Bible studies with various friends & church groups and otherwise got distracted from my goal. I've never finished reading STRAIGHT THROUGH. Although I can tell you I've read the majority of my Bible in bits & pieces, here & there through different studies & sermons & seasons when I felt led to read one book or another...but I've never completed a read straight through from beginning to end without stopping or bouncing around. So I'm still plugging away at that goal.

See the maroon ribbon bookmark hanging out at the bottom? THAT is where I am right now. Today I finished Isaiah 48. I know it seems silly. "Just stick with it til you're done!" It's easier said than done. I am such a book hog & lover of other literature that I have a hard time focusing. Probably a little bit of my undiagnosed ADD, but I am DETERMINED. And I want to finish the whole Bible with THIS copy. I already have a new ESV Bible waiting for me to move all my favorite bookmarks over into. And I will! But this one is going to be the one I work through start to finish. And I've picked up speed lately, so I know I WILL finish it!

What? Don't you have a lion sitting in your bathroom windowsill, too?
...and don't you also stare at the back of Santa's head all day at work?

I got a haircut mid-week. It was a long time coming. I took this picture that morning as my "before" shot. No great change...just needed to re-cut my layers that had grown out months ago!

And here's the "after" shot taken the next day.