Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!!


...praying your 2011 is filled with fresh discoveries
of your own abundant blessings



Renee  :)


Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Night Before the Night Before Christmas

Once upon a time it was the night before Christmas Eve, and there was a lot of smiling and hugging and talking and goofing off going on. 





There was also some swell pizza, and yummy children, and a delightful viewing of "The Polar Express" by the Christmas tree.






This made my heart very, very happy...



And life was GOOD :)

Happy Thursday - - I missed ya!
Renee

Monday, December 27, 2010

Tuckered Out


Hi y'all!

We had a wonderful weekend together and I'm anxious to share it all with you, but we are completely and utterly and very tuckered out. 

So I'm planning to sleep about 27 hours a day for the next couple of days, & then I'll be back to tell ya all about our Christmas holiday :)

Happy Monday!
Renee

Friday, December 24, 2010

Consider yourself hugged :)



As I celebrate the Christ-child and all He means to me,
and all the ways He blesses my life and my heart,  
I have thanked Him for YOU!

Thank you so much for the way you have encouraged me and blessed my life...
both new friends in the last few months since I started the blog,
and my dears who have been making my life sing for about 6 or 200 years :)

I'm praying that God will grow you ever closer to Him over the upcoming year,
 and that He will shower blessings upon your precious marriages and families.

I just love you all so much and am so thankful for each of ya!


Merry Christmas, y'all!


Renee

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I so love George Bailey

So it's been a good week with a whole lotta huggin & laughing going on.

My sister and bro-in-law threw a Christmas party last Saturday & I ended up spending the day with Robin in the kitchen puttering.  As many of you know, puttering just might be my spiritual gift...I am very, very proficient at the puttering.  Therefore, I had a very, very happy day!  We made cookies & ham rolls, & sausage balls, & a new favorite - spinach balls, and about six or 27  other various items that made me quite happy and satisfied and plump.  They had a great turnout, and I basically spent the whole entire day having a wonderful time.

Oh!  and in between all the puttering and then the partying, I colored my hair.  There is no other way to say this other than to just say it.  I now have brown hair.  And I think I like it. 

(Pictures to follow sometime before it is blonde again.)

Sunday I had to work, but Sunday evening Shayne and I went to the candlelight Christmas service with my Kari & Drew.  It was a lovely service with lots of singing and Scripture, and we had communion and perhaps another hug or seven...and yet more yummy food afterward.  More happy happy - and more eating things I don't usually get to eat.

I love the eating that ensues once we get this far into December.  Have you ever noticed that?  The eating just gets better & better as the calender passes the middle of December.  Just a random observation.

Monday I finished up most of my shopping and lunched with dear friends.  We got wonderfully caught up and I managed to find myself on the receiving - and giving - end of a couple of Ella-belle hugs.  That child is adorable and fun and kind've awesome!  :)

Tuesday was pretty quiet, but then Wednesday I had my long awaited "It's a Wonderful Life" dinner date with my buddy who is now my neighbor.  It was, well, wonderful!  We ate fast food, caught up on the latest in our children's lives, popped in the movie & shared some Christmas M&M cookies.  A good time was had by both, and I managed to cry for the 3678th time when Harry utters my perhaps-favorite-movie-line-of-all-time...

"To my brother, George Bailey, the richest man in town!" 

Sigh.  That one line speaks deep to my soul in about a dozen different ways.  And all of them wonderful.  Good stuff, people...just doesn't get any better.

Today I'm having lunch with another special friend (yaaay!!), and then I'm hunkering down to get serious about last-minute Christmas details.  I have to hunker...and get serious, because my babies are coming to town TOMORROW!! 

I'm excited about this because you know TOMORROW!! 

Happy Day-Before-Christmas-Eve!
Renee

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I simply can't wait...



...to see this sweet face!


(Hurry up Christmas Eve, is all I'm sayin!)

Have a thoroughly happy Wednesday :)
Renee

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mission (nearly) Accomplished

I did it again.

Yesterday I hit the Target, and the mall, and the Chick Fil-a, and the Kroger, and another place I shall not name at this time.  And I'm nearly almost sort've finished with my shopping!  Except for the fact that I will still need some groceries and Audrey only has those cute little training undies to go in her stocking.  I'm not sure she'll appreciate the significance or the value of that, so I'm thinking some type of little toy-ish-type item will likely be purchased.

But other than that I think I'm finished!

I need to take a moment.

In light of the level of my productivity yesterday I must now go and take a rest. and wrap two or eleven gifts. and perhaps mix up some cookie dough... and find a good marinade for some steaks that we have determined would make the perfect Christmas Eve repast. 

I might try to cram 8 hours of my, you know, job, in somewhere too.

Have a happy Tuesday, y'all :)
Renee

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Wealthy Woman Indeed

 
Are you feeling pressured this week?  A little stressed out?  Dare I say it...perhaps a bit depressed?  I know from experience that all of this manufactured and culturally mandated happy-happy, joy-joy can wear a tired heart out and leave it feeling like a failure for not being able to keep up. 

Well, I know the cure for such foolishness! 

It's all about the focus, friends. 

I promise it's true.  I don't know a lot, but I do know this to be true.  Focusing on the myriad of beautiful things in my life, things that came from the Giver of all Good Things, who just happens to be celebrating a birthday this week, puts all of life back into focus...and suddenly I am a very wealthy woman, who wants for nothing! 

...and I am then flooded with some bonafide happy-happy, joy-JOY!


holy experience
 
 a few more of the blessings upon blessings for which I am thankful...
 
my Christmas tree covered with a just a few of Jesus' names
 
 
taking communion with my loved ones
 
the precious certainty that God has the health of my beloved ones in His hands...
no need for fear, never a need for fear
 
singing praises to Jesus surrounded by people who love Him as much as I do
 
an afternoon in the kitchen with my sister
 
the wintertime view from my front door
 
  
an unexpected call from my sweet Shayne suggesting time together...always YES!!
 
a particularly successful experiment in the kitchen
 
singing Christmas carols by candlelight
 
ridiculously silly, inexplicably priceless family heirlooms
 
 
watching my now-son "in action" at church...so proud, so thankful
 
the beautiful gift of sons that God has given me through my daughters' husbands
 
my little nephew's declaration that tonight's party will be the best. party. EVER!
  
yummy Christmas candles burning in the evening, and the perfect glow they cast
 
 

So how has God blessed you this week? 

I would so  love to hear from you...how better to celebrate Jesus than to give Him praise and thanksgiving during this, His birthday week?

Happy Monday!
Renee
 
(A Thousand Gifts #173-186)
 

Friday, December 17, 2010

I'm thinking it's the thought that counts



So here's the thing.

As a little Christmas present for you I thought I would put together a little playlist of some of the music I've been enjoying this month & throw it on the ole' blog.  The cool thing that I personally like is you can "pop" it out and play while you scrub your toilets and wash your dishes...if you're so inclinedThis seemed like a good idea in theory, but the jury's out on the actual execution.  First off, I hope I didn't scare you to death when the music kicked in.  Does it help at all to admit that I have no idea what on earth I'm doing?  Also, I am fully aware that it's kind've big for the space along the side, and since I am actually quite OCD about such things it's stressing me out in a major way, but I'm plumb worn out and am just going to leave it for now.  I'm also afraid it is slowing things down a lot...but again, maybe it's just my imagination?

I assume this is not earth-shattering information for you who actually know how to function in the blogiverse, but I would appreciate it if you could not mock me within earshot. 

Feel free to mock away in the privacy of your own homes.

Happy Friday!
Renee :)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Here...with me

 
Of all of God's names, one of my favorites is Immanuel...God with us.

God with us.

I find that so beautiful in about six or two-hundred different ways.  Just hearing His name fills my heart with joy, and comfort, and hope!  Not only did He come to live among us, which is unfathomable to me, but He is with me today.

I am so thankful to know Jesus personally and to spend this messy life that I have growing to know Him more and better. 


What are your favorite names of Jesus?

Happy, happy Thursday!
Renee


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Seven-hundred words of sheer random

Well.  Yesterday was a productive and less aggravating kind of day.  I got a little work done, which is always helpful in the whole keeping a roof over my head department.  I tidied my house, including a little floor-vacuuming and furniture polishing, had some leftover chili for dinner, watched a little TV, and called it a day.

The end.

Just kidding.  Haha.  You didn't think you would get off that easy, did ya?

I'm not sure where this is going but I know I have a few words, so here goes nothin'!

I wanted to mention your movie suggestions from this post.  It seems that most everyone is with me in the It's a Wonderful Life lovin' - which I find vastly encouraging when contemplating the state of our young people in this great country of ours.  Lauren likes The Holiday, which I actually have and really enjoyed.  I forgot all about that one.  The girls gave it to me for Christmas and I'm thinking I should pull it back out this week sometime.  Robin is a fan of Christmas with the Kranks, which is great silly fun, but I must admit I thought their whole skipping the whole shebang plan was actually pretty sound.  Just my opinion.  I definitely need to see if I can catch that one on Netflix sometime in the next week or two.  And finally, Lauren S. is a big fan of Elf.  My kids love, love, love Elf.   As a matter of fact, that was our Christmas-In-July-Eve movie choice this year.  I'm thinking we'll likely catch that one while all together at Christmas time.  Thanks girls for your suggestions.  You have enriched my movie watching potential mightily through  your kind help.  :)

So I tried out the HuluPlus free trial this week, and I've gotta say...not really a fan.  I can't even believe that you have to pay and still get those confounded commercials.  If I want to watch commercials I'll just watch regular TV and save my $7.99 a month.  It's also aggravating in several other ways so I'm thinking they have a lot of work to do before they can really compete with Netflix.  The only thing they have going for them is some of the current seasons are available for view, but they're usually available on regular Hulu too - which is free.  So just in case you were wondering, I consider the current version of HuluPlus a big fail, and will be ditching my free trial tonight before I actually give them any of my money.

I don't know if I've mentioned this but I don't have cable other than the first few channels (mainly ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox & TBS.)  Since Netflix came along and I discovered free DVDs at the library I can honestly say I haven't missed it once. 

Good grief, that's a lie.  I actually did wish for the Food Network when The Pioneer Woman was on Throwdown with Bobby Flay.  Now that was some riveting television viewing that I hated to have to wait to see...especially when the live twitter party started during the premiere.  What?  Does that make me weird?

Amazingly enough I did wait...and survived to whine about it.

Kari & Drew had a pipe burst and flood their house a bit today and I'm feeling kind've a whole lot guilty for not racing over there to help.  Kari said they had it all under control and I really wanted to do some cleanup around here...and it was frigid outside...but I feel very much like a loser mom.  I need to figure out how to make it up to her tomorrow when it's a little warmer.  hehe.  Just kidding...I think.

On a business note, I'm afraid all these videos I've been putting on each day with Christmas music might be bogging down my little bloggy world here.  Let me know if you have any problems since I sometimes make up problems where none exist.  It's one of those things that seemed like a good idea, but now I'm not so sure...

Oh! one more thing that I just think is fun.  I bought Audrey a little somethin-somethin for her stocking that is just giving me all kinds of weird joy that I don't understand...little training pants!  hehe.  I can't even believe she's such a big girl, but beyond that I guess they just remind me of my littles again.  I got the old school ones just like the ones my babies ran around the house in, except of course they are pink and have flowers on them.  I am a grandmother, after all, and have my standards.

Well, if you stayed with me all the way through this mess-of-a-chat I hope you enjoy the song I've included below.  If you ditched me earlier...can't say as I blame ya!

Happy Wednesday!
Renee


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A bit of a setback

I dipped my big toe back into the crazy today.

I went Christmas shopping. at the mall. and Target. and other places I don't want to say or my daughters might figure out what they are getting for Christmas.

And y'all.  It made me tired.  A lot.

Accidentally and without even trying I spent what I consider to be a lot of money and I'm not even finished.  And I feel all anxious and panicky and broke and concerned about how in the world I'm going to get it all taken care of.

This is why I dislike leaving my house in December.  I much prefer to stay within the confines of my own home listening to my newfavorite music on the Pandora and pretending the world hasn't gone stark raving mad.

But since I'm down to a couple of weeks from the big day I decided I had to venture out.  It could have been worse...most people were nice & rather smiley.  Over the course of about 10 hours I had only one of the little tiny sugar cookies at the Cookie Company but it made me very, very happy.  I also indulged in a Chick Fil-a original chicken sandwich, as well as a slice of cheese pizza from Sbarro.

and a Pepsi.

I have no idea why I consider this to be newsworthy, but all in all the naughty eating was thoroughly enjoyable. 

I also rediscovered that the best laid plans always hit a kink, and where I thought I had everything all figured out in the who-is-getting-what department I have now hit a snag and one of my recipients, i.e. Andrew, has no gift.  I also discovered my RLE (shorthand for right lower extremity) still hurts when I try to get up and move. 

And finally, I was reminded once again that no matter how much fun it might appear - a day filled with spending and choosing and running around like a chicken with her head cut off, with a little bit of cramming a job in the middle of it all, can steal every last bit of my desperately-desired, hard-won peace of mind and overall lack of stomach knotty-ness. 

I go back into hibernation starting right now.

And in all seriousness, I would appreciate your prayers :)

Hope your Tuesday is happy,
Renee

p.s.  Some refocusing with another favorite...  Yaay Jesus!!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The (Kind've) Short List

It's been a pretty...uneventful week after all the visiting hub-bub and partying I did last weekend.  Now I'm feeling kind've contemplative and quiet. 

I know, right?  me? quiet?  Well, sometimes I am

So I'm not going to even try to wax poetic or come up with any profundities.  What I am going to do, however, is share my list with you for this week, just as it is, straight off my laptop...and  I would love to hear how God has blessed you :)



holy experience


(A Thousand Gifts #163-172)

christmas cards in my mailbox

God's provision for my every need

twinkling, multi-colored, christmas tree lights

sharing shopping chores with a friend

the constant way God fills all my empty spaces

peach sweet tea

generous friends who treat me to yummy chicken ;)

happy reports of a growing grandson

dinner with the people I work with - - some of whom I had never even met before!

and finally....

the glorious find of perfectly hideous christmas earrings for an upcoming social event :)


Happy Monday!
Renee

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Because it makes me smile

Hope your weekend is full of all kinds of wonderful!!




Happy Saturday :)
Renee

Friday, December 10, 2010

More music, but not a Santa in sight

Can you even believe that it's Friday again??  Crazy, huh.

What might be crazier is the fact that I ruminate on the passing of time nearly every. single. week.  I really need to get a grip.

I have had a not-really-very-busy week full of mostly nothing much...and yet I feel kind've tired, and full, and satisfied :) 

So I made an interesting discovery this last week.  I do not, in fact, hate Christmas music.  What I hate is seasonal music.  When I'm listening to my new-favorite-thing-in-the-world on the Pandora I find myself really-really liking songs that are actually about Jesus, the birthday boy, the Christ Child :)

How 'bout that and who knew?  I feel so foolish and silly.  For someone who thinks she has it somewhat together I am continually amazed at the simple truths that I find myself confounded over.  How God must just smile and shake His head at me sometimes...

I'm so sad for all the joy I have missed over the last decade or so wading through my own fatigue, and grief...and self-centeredness when I could have been rejoicing over the everything that I had all along.

(Hope my family agrees when it's time to open the gifts that I still haven't purchased!  hehe.)

On another note, I actually got out of the house a couple of times this week.  As you might recall, I haven't been feeling very well since you-know-when, and I'm still kind've droopy and lazy.  But I cast all my inertia aside last Saturday and hit the road.

And you couldn't even believe what a fun day I had!  Guess what I did?  Never mind.  I'll just tell ya. 

I went a-visiting!

Who ever does that anymore?  Not me for sure.  It was completely impromptu, but I ended up going from hug to hug all day long without the first invitation.  I hear that was done somewhat often back in the olden days on the prairie.  I think maybe they were on to something.  It was one of the most enjoyable days I've had in a while, complete with falling snow, and I never saw the inside of a store or heard the first lame chestnuts-roasting song :)  I did, however, have some lovely Kenny G playing on my car stereo as I journeyed around.  You should try it sometime.  Just show up somewhere you think people like you and let the hugs begin!  Good times, folks.



And then Monday...I put on eyeliner and went to a Christmas party!  And it was fun!  And I got some more hugs!  And a new Christmas tree ornament!  And leftovers for lunch the next day! 

I can't stop with the exclamation points!  But in all serious, people, more good times were had, and they were had by me!

...so all in all it's been a pretty great week except for missing my Audrey and Owen.  It's going to be a long couple of weeks until I get to squeeze those sweet babies again.  I'm pretty sure Owen may forget me by then.  Does anyone know how long a three-week-old can retain memories?  Wait.  Don't tell me - I don't want to know.

Oh!  One more thing! - - regarding my right lower extremity - My ankle/foot is down to approximately six shades of various colors and now it only hurts a little bit when I put my sock on.  I can walk around for a few minutes before the limping starts.  I consider this further encouragement that I will, in fact, soon be able to again walk laps while my mother mocks me.

Finally, today's musical selection is a personal favorite.  I hope you enjoy it half as much as I do :)




Happy Friday!
Renee

Thursday, December 9, 2010

For Your Christmas-Viewing Pleasure

In keeping with the spirit of the happy-happy, and in light of the fact that I'm sleepy this morning and have no funny in me, I have decided to share my list of all-time favs in the Christmas movie category.  I may share other such lists at a later date when I'm stuck.  Just keepin it real, people

 I know you're beside yourself with glee and joy and anticipation.

Let's talk movies, shall we?  I LOVE me some movie-viewing and I'm not too proud to admit it.  I have listed my top favorites below in no particular order.

(Although it only seems right to make it abundantly clear that It's a Wonderful Life is pretty much my favorite movie OF ALL TIME...I can miss the whole movie, walk into the room during the closing scene and burst into tears - and we're talking the ugly-cry, folks, not girly-girl tears.)

Where was I? 

Oh yeah...I could only think of nine.  I'm so lame at 5:00 in the morning.

The Santa Clause

The Polar Express

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (Don't judge)

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)

A Charlie Brown Christmas

White Christmas

Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Home Alone

It's a Wonderful Life

I watched The Santa Clause a couple of nights ago and missed my little girls so badly I swear I could see their little faces right here in my living room.  and if that isn't pitiful I don't know what is.  We took them to the theater for that one and I'm almost certain it was just yesterday.   sigh.

*DISCLAIMER!!  I know National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation is a bit rough around the edges.  If ya want to watch it try to catch it on TV.  I had only seen it on TV until recently, and when I watched the DVD I was taken aback at the naughtiness.  Definitely not for family viewing.  I thought about not putting it on the list but that would be a lie 'cause it is a favorite, and lying is wrong. 

White Christmas makes me miss Tara....we had so much FUN together and I miss her.  and the movie makes me happy, too. 

I seem to be in a missing-everybody kind of mood, so I'm thinking I need to wrap things up STAT.

So what's your favorite Christmas movie?  Will ya drop me a line & share?  I would love to add something different to what seems to have become memory lane for me!

**********************

In honor of our movie theme, my musical selection for today leans toward a touch of the whimsy.  Enjoy!





Happy Thursday!
Renee

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Watching My Daughter...


...with her son...


...leaves me with wordless.


Happy Wednesday!
Renee

(Beautiful photos taken by Kari)

***********************************
Today's musical selection is Away in a Manger.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

In Spite of All I Am

For as long as I live until the day I die I will never, ever understand why God loves me so.  I'm acutely aware of all the ugliness in my life...in my mind, in my heart. 
Even when my intentions are pure and honest I'm more often than not decidedly...unlovable

He's wonderfully perfect

I am completely imperfect and have nothing to offer Him other than my love, and devotion, and praise.

Yet He loves me. 

And actually He more than just loves-loves me. 

He values me with the fervent kind of love that requires action.  He loved me enough to pursue me, to sacrifice for me...to redeem me. 

He gave His life for me in spite of who I am.  

Reflecting on this unfathomable truth makes me weak in the knees.  And it makes me want to hug His neck so badly!  And while I can't actually do that this morning, maybe I could hug Him through my devotion...my appreciation...my praise. 

God Almighty gave up everything so He could be my everything

Hallelujah :)

Over the next couple of weeks I thought I would share some my discoveries in my quest for Jesus-focused Christmas music, and this one makes my heart sing...

...I hope your heart is singing today as well!





Happy Tuesday!
Renee

Monday, December 6, 2010

Jehovah Provides!

holy experience

Remember back in Genesis when God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac? 
I've always loved that passage. 

I love how committed Abraham was and how he had such faith
that God would make it ok...whatever it turned out to be. 

I love how God provided the sacrifice, thus saving Isaac's life. 
I love how he provided exactly what was needed, when it was needed. 

God provided exactly what was needed, when it was needed.

...and just like He did for Abraham, God provides my everything.  every day. 

I just love Him so! 

Blessing, upon blessing, upon blessing...

The awful, wonderful cross ... permanent redemption
He loves me as I am...weird, messy me
He has limitless patience with me
Neverfailing, neverending faithfulness
His word 
The privilege of prayer
Deep-inside-my-soul joy
Grace...precious...priceless
Beautiful, strength-giving hope
My yearning heart

Warm fingers and toes
Snowflakes tickling my nose
The aroma of warm soup bubbling on the stove
New pictures of my grandchildren
That wonderful, bittersweet, homesick feeling that comes from missing loved ones,
 which comes from the precious gift of having ones to love
Christmas Pandora
My sister and the pumpkin pie given to replace the one I lost
A quick chat about Jesus with my precious baby, all grown up and loving her Lord
The undeserved gift of life!!

Thank you, Lord Jesus

Make it a gratitude-filled Monday y'all...He deserves all our praise!
Renee

(A Thousand Gifts #145-162)

p.s.  If you are looking for an Advent resource for your family, I have been thoroughly blessed by this one that Ann is giving away.

Friday, December 3, 2010

On music, santa, and my right lower extremity

Y'all.  You wouldn't believe what happened to me last night.  I was sitting in my living room obsessing in a good way over Christmas music when what to my wondering ears should...appear?  That's right, folks... SANTA ON A FIRETRUCK!  complete with many sirens! and flashing lights!  I can't even tell you how happy it made me to hop outside on my good foot and stand shivering in the cold, dark night to catch a glimpse of the Big Man himself.  He was throwing candy at the young'uns and they were just beside themselves with glee and joy over the unexpected visit.  I'm not gonna lie.  It was the best moment of my week and I'm not even ashamed to admit it.  I even got a really bad picture, see?




Words cannot even express how very much I love my newest discovery.  I love how God throws something right in my lap to encourage me, and that's what He did yesterday!  I was reading Big Mama's post, as I do nearly every day because she cracks me up and I need all the chuckles I can get.  In it she listed some of her favorite Christmas music.  Now I love it when she lists her favorites because it saves me some work trying to find new stuff to like, but this time my real find was in the comments.  My new best friend Kristen who is a complete stranger to me changed. my. life. forever. 

And no, I am not prone to exaggeration.  I think we've addressed this before? 

Anyway, she informed the worldwideweb that Sixpence None the Richer (holiday) on Pandora was simply - and I quote - dreamy.  And she wasn't wrong!  It was a lovely blend of different artists singing mostly Christ-centered (instead of season-centered) songs in an easy, laid back, dreamy sort of style.  I spent the better part of the day clicking the "like" button on the songs that came up.  The play list fits in perfectly with my big plan to not indulge in the crazy this year and I just couldn't be happier.  And I thought you should know. 

You're welcome.

My ankle is down to only about 4 or 9 different colors at this point...two whole weeks after my big injury.  It's still kinda pretty to look at if you like multicolored feet, but I can tell that someday it will go back to the boring ole foot I've known for nigh these many years.  My left leg no longer screams in pain from all the weird ways I've been limping and walking around, and in fact the whole walking thing is going a bit better.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to make it. 

Again...thought you should know.

No more Christmas shopping has been done since I last reported in on the subject a couple of weeks ago.  Not another daggone thing.  I appear to have lost the will to shop... even via the worldwideweb.  This whole neardeathexperience thing I've had going on seems to have thrown me completely off-kilter.

I really, really love saying worldwideweb.  I have no explanation for this and therefore will not even try, but I'm kind've afraid it's not nearly as adorable as I like to think it is.

On a food-related note, I can't seem to let go of my grief over my poor pumpkin pie.  I had a lot of a pie left from Thanksgiving and was secretly planning to eat it all. by myself. in the dark. with lots of whipped cream.  Unfortunately The Great Plague threw me off my overeating game and it got old and yucky, and yet I can't bear to actually throw it out.  It's just sitting in my fridge mocking me.  MOCKING ME! 

Seriously people, that just ain't right.

Finally, I know I have already addressed the whole music thang in the above paragraphs, but can I just say I love me some Casting Crowns.  and I love their Christmas CD.  and I really love their rousing rendition of "I heard the Bells."  Therefore, I have included the link below for your listening pleasure.  Because it's Friday. and it's Christmas time. and I love ya.



Happy Friday!
Renee

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ditchin' the Crazy

This Christmas season is going to be different.  And this time I mean it.

For years now I have found the holiday season to be my least favorite, pretty much excruciatingly stressful time of year.  I love my Jesus, and I am so grateful to Him for the way He gave everything up just for me...My discomfort in December certainly has nothing at all to do with the Christ Child.  I just find December to be so very noisy and demanding. 

I've tried to ignore all the noise and and pressure crushing in on me each year and longed to simply bask in the precious warmth of love and gratitude... but I have never been able to actually pull it off. 

I've always shared with my friends that my favorite part of the entire holiday season is Christmas night....when it's all over.  That's when I would do my personal happy dance for surviving another year :)

My children are adults who understand my limitations, and my friends expect nothing from me other than the love I can give them.  So, as that familiar knot begins to build in my stomach and my mind begins to race and strategize- -

 I have decided not to play.

That's right, doggone it.  This year I refuse to engage in the frenzy or the crazy. 

This year I am keeping it slow, simple, peaceful

I will not try to figure out how to buy things I obviously have no budget to buy...and I will not feel guilty because I can't. 

I will give my family and my friends my heart...and I will truly believe that to be, not just enough, but everything

I will focus on Christmas music that is all about Jesus and not about chestnuts roasting or hand-holding :)

I will decorate less, cook less, bake less.

I will mute! the tv commercials that make me feel frantic and anxious.  Better yet, maybe I'll turn the television off altogether!

I will participate in Advent each day this month, keeping my focus on Jesus, the Christ Child, and all He means to me.

I will ask my Father to help me to be Jesus with skin on to someone who needs Him desperately this December.

....and I will rejoice and find joy.

Wanna come with?

Happy Thursday :)
Renee

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Love All Around

For quite some time I had looked forward to spending a full week with my whole family under one roof.  There is nothing sweeter to me than late night talks in our jammies with my daughter(s) while everyone else sleeps, or early morning hugs from my sweet girl with her still soggy-diapered bottom, puppy and milk in hand.  There is something beautifully un...urgent about having days at a time when no one has to to go home. 

These are things I didn't value while raising my children.  Back then the days seemed to last forever and I had no understanding of how quickly the time flies and how valuable that time was.  Now my babies are grown and usually all I have are quick glimpses of what used to be.

I'm not complaining.  This is God's design.  We grow up.  We build our families, training them to grow up and build their families.  It's a good thing and I'm grateful for my daughter's wonderful lives and beautiful families.

But that doesn't mean I don't miss them and the bustling life of homework, and hugs, and ballgames, and youth groups. 

I say all that to try to explain how special our extended visits are and how very much I look forward to them.  This Thanksgiving was extra special because sweet little, not-even two-week-old Owen was with us.

Once I got home after this holiday and all the chaos it included, I found myself feeling kind've sad, kind've blue, and kind've a lot sorry for myself.  Sometimes it feels like I get more than my fair share of the disaster-type stories.  (I used to call them adventures when I didn't want my children to completely melt down.)  I found myself once again wondering why things seem to always go wrong and I often find myself disappointed.

Poor, poor me.

Satan really knows how to hit us when we're down, and I'm sure my physical maladies contributed to my decidedly ungrateful attitude.  Be that as it may, this is a terribly unflattering side of me and I'd kinda prefer to keep my lousy attitude to myself, but it feels a bit hypocritical to prattle on and on about how funny life is and how grateful I am all the time when I'm not, in fact grateful all the time.  I had a little chat with God, and He forgave me for not appreciating all the sheer wonderfulness that He showers me with every. single. day.

..and I feel compelled to share some of that wonderfulness right out loud, so to speak.

(A Thousand Gifts #130-144)

baby toes that wriggle enthusiastically when the socks come off

family whose first line of defense is to laugh with each other when facing the icky

more food than a family of seven can eat and the leftovers that follow

grace undeserved

grown daughters who value time spent with me and with each other

sweet Audrey's unconditional love

my lastborn's home, which is large enough to make us all comfortable...even when not feeling well

able bodies that bounce back from even ugly cold weather illnesses

love all around me

safety in the travels of my loved ones

in-laws who are kindly cooperative in accommodating schedules

peace beyond understanding

neverending hope

sons-in-law who are caring, and patient, and kind, and strong

...and always, always Jesus

Happy, happy Wednesday!
Renee

p.s.  If you would like to read from more grateful people feel free to follow the link below.  I guarantee it'll bless you right down to your toes!


holy experience



Tuesday, November 30, 2010

What I Did On My Thanksgiving Vacation

(Alternately titled "Oh the troubles, we had 'em.")

**Disclaimer!!  This was not a vacation in that I have a job and was chief cook and bottle washer for the fam, but I thought the title was kind've fun and kitchy and reminded me of my childhood, when I had neither job nor bottles to wash.

So I honestly don't even know where to start.  I spent most of the week laughing and saying things like Ohmygoodness this will go great on the blog, or It's all good.  Then a couple of days ago I started with the upchucking and suddenly it wasn't so amusing, and I got a little bit of the cranky. 

It's all fun & games until it's my head in a trash can.  Just sayin.

I'm feeling a little better now and oddly enough have seemed to have forgotten most of the horrifying details.  Kinda like when you have a baby or a kidney stone.  It's like a bad dream that gets fuzzier and fuzzier as time passes by.  God is good to us like that.

However, here is some of what I remember from, what I like to call, The Great Thanksgiving Disaster of 2010.

Minutes - literally like two minutes - after my family arrived from North Carolina I retrieved my granddaughter from the car and stepped in a hole (yup, you heard me) and twisted my ankle, leading me to hobble around like an 84-year-old man for the rest of the week. 

That might have been the high point of the week.  I can't rightly say.  

I'm not sure why I hobbled like an 84-year-old man, but that's what came to me so I'm sticking with it.

(You will be happy and relieved to know that although I was carrying Miss Audrey at the time she did not hit the ground when I did.  I protected that child with my last ounce of strength and she came through the fall unscathed.)

The weekend was crazy busy but relatively healthy, but then...then...Monday morning struck.  The plague hit our home and we still haven't quite recovered.  For the ensuing seven days we've been in varying degrees of misery and uncomfortableness.  I will spare you further details in this regard, but suffice it to say there was much moaning, and groaning, and whining, and complaining.

...and that was just me.

None of us were particularly interested in actually eating Thanksgiving dinner but most were terribly interested in the leftovers, so I dragged my tired, pitiful self to the kitchen to brine that blasted turkey... and subsequently flooded half the kitchen.  I didn't care so much about the kitchen, but my cell phone was in the direct line of water fire and died an instant, ugly death.  This was distressing to me because I love me some Happy Thanksgiving texts from my people, and the ensuing silence was deafening.  Deafening, I say.

In between all that misery and mayhem we did manage to sneak in some baby Owen snuggles, a whole lot of Audrey cuddling, some interesting television viewing, 5-gazillion loads of laundry, two seasons of Blue's Clues, a most excellent pumpkin pie, and a whole lot of Pepsi and Dr. Pepper drinking. 

...and I may or may not have used my cranky voice with Miss Audrey three times; things are a little hazy on such matters.

Happy Tuesday!
Renee

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Gathering




We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known;

The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing;
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.


Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;

So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!



We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be;

Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!


Happy, Happy Thanksgiving!
Renee


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sweet relief


So I am happy to report that we have survived our current maladies, and I am cautiously optimistic that we may indeed be spunky enough to consume large quantities of a variety of casserole-type dishes tomorrow.  If I can drag myself into the kitchen, that is.  Time will tell, people, time will tell. 

I'll tell ya all about it until your ears are tired - after I sleep for at least 2.5 hours in a row.  Just sayin.

In the meantime, I hope your day holds no tummy onslaughts and is full of  all manner of wonderfulness :)

Happy Wednesday!
Renee

p.s.  Isn't my granddaughter just the sweetest thing ever??

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Seriously and I'm not even kidding...


...the throw-up is a-flyin around here.

If I survive the Great Tummy Onslaught of 2010 I'll see ya tomorrow.
Renee

Monday, November 22, 2010

Gifts Undeserved




holy experience

Thanksgiving is quite possibly my favorite holiday of the year.  It's not that I don't love celebrating Christ and all He has done for me in December, but as a holiday Thanksgiving feels so pure somehow.  There is no shopping chaos...no financial woes...no insane schedules that sap the life right out of me.  The only list I have to make is the one I take to Kroger, and I don't expect anything from anyone in return for the turkey I will roast.  My family gathers together and we simply enjoy being together...and as long as there is pie, all is right with the world. 

I love that our country set aside a national holiday just to thank God for taking care of us.   Good thinking, forefathers!  :)

I'll never understand why some people have so much and others have so little.  I don't know why I was born in the USA and so many are born into utter poverty with little likelihood of ever escaping it.  Millions of people are born, live, and die without ever experiencing a fraction of the material blessings I have enjoyed...and far, far too many never experience the freedom or the hope found in knowing Jesus personally.

In America I am certainly not considered to be wealthy.  There are a lot of things that I would love to have and a few things that I need.  However, there is nothing I need that I cannot live without, and nothing I want that keeps me up at night. 

In most other parts of the world I would be considered wealthy.  I have a home to call my own.  I have locks on my doors and an innate feeling of security and safety.  I have never awakened at night afraid of anyone.  I have never had to scramble to protect myself from the rain, or the cold, or the heat.  I do not have to walk until my feet hurt to get water - and my water is always clean and safe.

If I don't feel well I can get into my little car, and approximately six minutes later I'm at my very own doctor's office.  I can see my doctor most any day of the week for just a $20 copay.  I might then need medication that is readily available at a myriad of  pharmacies near my home. 

Many, many people are never able see a doctor.  Many die from treatable illnesses because they have no access to routine antibiotics or other medications that are readily available to me.

I am never hungry.  I may slide a bit past a meal time every once in a while, but it's only a scheduling issue.  I will say this again so maybe I'll remember it for more than 3.7 seconds.  I am never hungry. 

I have lived 45 healthy years without ever being truly hungry. 

Thinking about it that way makes me want to cry.

Why do these realities not knock me to my knees in abject gratitude to the God who has shown me such generosity and mercy?  How can I go blindly through day, after day, after day just accepting all the wonderful things in my life...as my due?

Sometimes I wonder how God must feel as He watches my complacency and attitude of entitlement. 

How sad I must make him...

I try to be aware of the good things that God has given me and how He is working in my heart and my life, but honestly I fear most of the time I wander through my days completely inattentive to what God has done for me. 

I so want to do better.  

Would you pray with me that I will recognize, with ever-increasing clarity, how much I am given?  The more I realize how much God has blessed me, the more I realize I have no idea.

What a ridiculously fortunate dilemma.


Thank you, thank you, dear Father for taking such wonderful care of me all of my life.  Thank you for loving me even when I don't love you so well.  Thank you for gifting me with so much undeserved.  Thank you for sparing me what I do deserve.  I love you for who you are and am grateful for what you've done, and I would like to ask you to open my eyes to all that that includes.  I love you, Lord!


Thanks for letting me share my heart a little bit today - have a very happy Monday Y'all!
Renee

(A Thousand Gifts 118-129)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Somebody help a girl out, would ya?

Thanksgiving is less than a week away and I face a rather familiar dilemma.  How to make Thanksgiving special when my family will be celebrating more than once?  My girls will be eating two yummy dinners that day and I hate being redundant.  I could change things up a bit and serve chicken fried rice with a big ole helping of beef & broccoli, but where's the tradition in that?? 

And much more importantly...where are the leftovers in that?!!

So I stick to the at-least-mostly traditional, familiar fare.  Mamaw Honaker's sweet potato casserole is a must of course.  Amelia's recipe for brining and roasting the turkey is a never-fail.  Pumpkin pie for Jeremy and apple pie for Drew.  There's the must-have stuffing which we do not stuff and is never particularly wonderful.  (I need a good recipe for that one!!  A recipe that has nothing weird in it that my kids will reject!)  And of course we have to have the usual mashed potatoes and gravy. 

And the bread!  We can not, must not, forget the bread!  This year I'm thinking I'll serve up some of Pioneer Woman's rosemary rolls - they are out-of-this-world and a sure crowd pleaser. 

Something green would be good but I don't think I can bear to slap together the awesome green bean casserole this year and I don't think the fam will approve of the healthy version I found.  Maybe just some steamed broccoli.  No?  Not on the most decadent eating day of the year?  How about broccoli casserole with a lot of cheese and stuff that's bad for you?  I thought so.

After typing all of this out I'm not impressed by the, well...unbalanced-ness of it all, but seriously I don't think the offspring will tolerate any variation on the traditional. 

However, I sure would like to get it a try.  Do any of you have any good suggestions?  Any favorites around your house that you just couldn't face the holiday without?  I can't stray too far because of the aforementioned issues, but I would love to shake thinks up a little bit beyond the rosemary rolls. 

Because seriously, how many 5-gazillion-calorie buttered rolls can a girl eat in one sitting?

Happy Friday!
Renee

p.s.  Don't forget the cranberry sauce! the canned, jelly kind!  Yumm-O...  There was a most excellent-looking recipe for it on PW's site, but I'm afraid I might shock and horrify my children.  What is fascinating and somewhat pathetic about that is the fact that I'm pretty sure my children do not even eat cranberry sauce.  well, that and the fact that my children are grown adults.  Good grief I'm such a mom. and a goober. and not particularly in that order. 

Have a good weekend, y'all!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

How I've missed our little talks

So oh my goodness gracious it has been a while since we've chatted!  I've missed going on and on about absolutely nothing important with ya, and I have some terribly uninteresting and perhaps irrelevant things to talk about.  Remember people, I live alone and have words! and a lot of 'em.  Now let's see... where do I start?

First off, thanks to all of you who were so kind to me after this post on Monday.  Your kind words made me feel better & I'm so thankful for you all :)

Well of course you know we finally have a new baby, and he is perfect, PERFECT, I tell ya.  He's chunky, and snuggle-y, and smiley, and warm - and he smells like a new baby, and he makes those sweet little irresistible baby sounds that new babies make.  I'm telling ya he is a full bundle of wonderfulness and I'm not even kidding. 

Audrey's pretty terrific, too.  She is so funny I can hardly even stand it.  How can such a tiny little person be so laugh-out-loud funny?  I have no idea but I'm glad, cause seriously, how much fun would a boring toddler be?  I would hate to have to pretend to find her amusing - that could get pretty tedious over the next 20 or 80 years.  You can't fake a sense of humor, folks.

(Wow.  it just occurred to me that in 80 years I will be like 125.  I could be wrong but I'm thinking I probably won't be doing too much pretending by then.)

My point is that Audrey is a funny kid who makes me laugh, and I enjoy every minute I spend with her.  Thank goodness!

So I've been wondering about this since my use of the word "elucidate" last week.  (Please give me a shout out if you know the answer.  I've learned more than one or six things since beginning this adventure on the worldwideweb & don't want to stop now!)  So here's my question.  Do I "elucidate the list," or do I "elucidate on the list?"  I just can't be sure and it's bugging me.  I tried to google it but could find no clear answer.  I like the word but I'm embarrassed and chagrined to think I used it incorrectly.  and I suspect I did.  use it incorrectly, I mean.

In other news, I am pleased and relieved and happy to report that I did not, in fact, gain 10 pounds while at my daughter's.  I might have gained a pound or so if I were counting, but I'm not gonna lie, there was some joyous woo-hoo-ing going on in my house when I finally, with great fear and trepidation, stepped on the scale upon returning home. 

Although this leads me to more questions.  How can I eat like a maniac for days on end with virtually no weight gain and yet lose no poundage when eating NONE of that yummy terribleness at all?  Life is weird sometimes.  just sayin.

On that note...is it strange to eat sloppy joes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner just because it's there and therefore requires no effort whatsoever?  Don't judge me.  I'm single and on a tight budget.

And you might be wondering about my Christmas shopping progress... You may be pleased to know that I have purchased two more items.  Unless you know me well you will not recognize the enormity of this information.  Many times I have waited to do any shopping whatsoever until the week of Christmas, usually around the 23rd.  (Just so you know, there are usually wildly wonderful sales going on around about then...but you will have a difficult time finding good jammies.)  you're welcome.

One last thing...

Hey Darlene!!  I am SO taking you to TGIFridays when you get to Roanoke.  We will have the sizzling chicken with cheese! with garlic mashed potatoes! and then a big ole serving of the vanilla bean cheesecake just because it is the yummiest dessert ever to be served at a chain restaurant that is not The Cheesecake Factory.  EVER, I'm saying.

Happy Thursday!
Renee