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!!
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.
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!
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?
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 inclined. This 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.
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.
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.
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!
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 andmove.
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!!
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 :)
(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!
the glorious find of perfectly hideous christmas earrings for an upcoming social event :)
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 :)
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
Miracle on 34th Street (1947)
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!
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.
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...
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.
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.
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 excruciatinglystressful 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 noisyand 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.
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'vea 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 sheerwonderfulness 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
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
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!