Saturday, December 29, 2012

Goodbye, Holidays

It seems like I can hardly wait for the holidays to come. If you know me at all, then you know I begin to get in the holiday spirit on September 1st. I thoroughly enjoy the fall colors, crisp weather, pumpkin patches, pumpkin bars and Thanksgiving.  Then, in a wink, it is Christmas time. There is a childlike, magical quality to Christmas, isn't there?

My kids and I were talking that it seems to be harder to get in the Christmas spirit. I don't know if that occurs as we get older or if it is the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, or both. We have six children, so there is some pressure in getting all their presents purchased and wrapped. I love it but can get stressed out about it all at the same time.

 I planned to watch the Waltons Homecoming Christmas a couple of times this season. That always seems to help me get more in the spirit. One of the scenes I like the best is when Grandma announces that Olivia will make her applesauce cake for Christmas and that she is down in the basement getting the apples for her cake. Here's a picture of Patricia Neal (Olivia Walton) coming up from the basement with a plant she had found blooming.

Just like Olivia Walton's applesauce cake, there's something about moms and the things they make each year for the holidays that seem to make it special for their families. I did make the things my kids like such as fudge and gooey butter cookies. But still, I didn't seem to get in that Christmas spirit that I was yearning to find.

We watched A Charlie Brown Christmas and The Year Without a Santa Claus. Who doesn't get in the Christmas spirit while watching Linus give his speech about the real meaning of Christmas? I even watched what my husband calls that "spooky" Christmas Box. I always feel Christmas-y when I watch that. But it was as if I had seen all the Christmas shows and listened to all the Christmas music, but still couldn't exactly find that spirit.

On Christmas Eve, we opened gifts, sipped our punch, had a few goodies to munch on and watched It's a Wonderful Life. That was almost reaching the ideal I had in mind.

But I think I know what it is now. I think Christmas brings both joy and a bit of sadness. Sadness because I don't shop for GI Joes, Barbies, and baby strollers anymore. As I looked at my children, I had such joy in seeing them sitting at the table all together. It seems unbelievable to me that they could be in their teens and early twenties. There's a part of me that wants to make time stop or even go back and see them as they were just one more time.

I also tend to look back more to when my brother and I were younger. I remember going to my grandparents house for Christmas Eve. On the way home, we would hear the radio reports of Santa Claus and which state he was now close to.  It was fun to experience Christmas through his eyes. Just last year I was back home for a short visit and stood on the stoop of my grandparents' home. The house is no longer there, but if I closed my eyes, I could imagine the living room and all the aunts, uncles, and cousins inside. My dad is no longer with us, but in my mind, I could see him sitting inside that room as well.

But I opened my eyes and there we were. My husband and my children standing on the lot where I have so many memories. My husband picked up a piece of a stone from the foundation and placed it in the van. He understands how sentimental I am. Even though so much has changed, their presence meant so much to me - just to have them there looking with me and listening to me remember.

Granny's house also is no longer standing and she too, has went on to be with the Lord.  It seems as if we should walk into her kitchen and see her standing over the stove stirring the fried potatoes and putting the rolls into the oven.

Would I really want to go back in time? Maybe for a few minutes to look on faces that I can no longer see. But my world and my happiness is in the right now. Even though there is some sort of sadness to Christmas, I think it might be in the remembering of Christmases past. What I have to remind myself is that while those times were beautiful, right now is the most beautiful time of all. All of those experiences are still with me in a kind of golden light. But I'm thankful for the right now, too.

If you have little ones at home, I know how stressful holidays can be.  There is the shopping, wrapping and then packing away of all the Christmas ornaments, lights, and the miscellaneous odds and ends. But as you pack away the last item and store it on the shelf, stop and listen to the voices in your house. Those voices won't be little forever. Determine within yourself to enjoy every moment this year with those that you love and that love you. Each season has something wonderful to offer. Wintertime is a time to snuggle within the four walls of your home with blankets and pillows and hot chocolate. Say goodbye to the holidays, but let hope and peace reign in your heart as you begin your New Year.

I bless all those reading with the declaration that this will be a year of peace, hope, and joy for each one of you. I bless you, your children, your husband, and your entire family. Even if some of you are going through a dark or lonely time right now, I bless your tomorrow with joy. In Jesus' name - Amen:)

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Letter Each Christmas - My Tradition

Image: courtesy Google

Every year when Christmas was done and we were packing away the decorations, my mom would always grab a piece of paper and pen. She would jot down a few things that had occurred that year and then place it inside the box.

Now that I have a family of my own, I do the same thing. It's always fun to get out the paper from last year and read what I had written. Usually it is about our kids and things that are going on in their lives and also short prayers I write for them. It might be something like:

She (my daughter) is 15 years old now and interested in fashion and photography. Lord, bless her and keep her this upcoming year. Let her know that You are interested in her dreams.

He (my littlest boy) is six years old and said the funniest thing a few weeks ago (then I would write down the entire thing he said, because I might not remember it in a few months).

This is just a sampling of some of the things I write. It doesn't take me long. Some of my "letters" are sixteen years old and the kids find it fascinating to read what I wrote about them so long ago.

A few of my letters are especially bittersweet as they were about our little boy who passed away at the age of four in 1996. I thank God especially for those sentences that I wrote. I didn't know it would be his last Christmas.

Some of you may prefer to write about events that happened in our country or around the world, or your hopes and dreams for the upcoming year.

I write a little about each child, or things happening at our church or home, and a prayer for the next year. It only takes me a few minutes and then I date it, fold it, and place it in the box of Christmas decorations where I won't read it again until that next Christmas.

Take a few minutes to do this before the last box goes into storage. You'll be pleasantly surprised in December 2013 when you read your letter again.

Blessings and Merry Christmas to each one of you!

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Really Romantic Movies #1

Don't you love a good romance?  Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett, Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara...the list could go on and on.

I have a lot of favorites, but if you have a little time on your hands after the busy days of Christmas shopping, here is one movie I really enjoy.

The movie is  Becoming Jane and it's the story of a romance between Jane Austen (played by Anne Hathaway)  and Tom Lefroy (played so very well by James McAvoy). It is thought that Jane's personal life was the inspiration for her novel Pride and Prejudice.

Jane and Tom Lefroy meet without any sparks flying at first. She finds him to be arrogant young man with a bad reputation. But she finds herself drawn to Tom and eventually they fall in love. Here is my favorite scene between Jane and Tom at the ball. Watch Jane's face as she suddenly sees Tom appear. Sigh.

But in that time, love was not the only thing to be regarded in a match between a man and a woman. As Jane finds out, Tom is the primary breadwinner for his impoverished family back home. If he leaves the opportunities afforded him by his rich uncle, his family will be left destitute. Jane does not come from a wealthy background and she realizes that she cannot ask Tom to leave his position and marry her. She is willing to sacrifice her own personal happiness for him and his family.

Their final scenes at the tavern are played so well, especially by James McAvoy. He is able to convey the devastation he feels as she tells him that they cannot marry.

A trailer of the movie:

Becoming Jane is one of those movies you can enjoy watching more than once. So after wrapping the last gift, after baking the last cookie, and after watching It's A Wonderful Life (you know you have to watch that!),  throw a pillow and blanket on the couch and settle back to watch a beautiful romance.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas at Home with a Homemade Touch

Merry Christmas! I've been working on "Christmasfying" our home. I like keeping it simple and elegant.

Cranberries in water with greenery and floating candles.


Garland on the kitchen windowsill

A branch spray painted with silver for the table.

Christmas mantel

Front view

Secretary desk

A large glass vase filled with ornaments = simplicity!

A mini touch of Williamsburg. This is just a cake plate with greenery and fresh fruit. I also use faux red apples, but I'm still searching the house for those.  It's still a work in progress:)

Have a blessed holiday season!

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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Weeping May Endure for a Night -Part 1 (When God Seems Silent)

When we first found out that our twins had cerebral palsy, it didn't come as a complete surprise. I had been noticing some things that didn't seem quite right, but the doctor had said the developmental delays were probably due to their prematurity (they were born 10 weeks early in 1991). I noticed that both children would often have a "stiffness" to their bodies. It was hard to cuddle them in the way you normally would with an infant or toddler. They didn't sit up, crawl, or walk at the time you would expect those milestones. They cried almost non-stop throughout the day. There might be a 45 minute reprieve during a nap, but then the crying would start again. To say I was a frazzled mom would be an understatement. We also had a very precious little boy, Evan, born exactly 9 months earlier, who I felt was getting too little of my attention. Sometimes he and I would drive into the next little town  for a hamburger at Burger King and a quick stop at the grocery store. He was such a wonderful little companion and never any trouble to take anywhere. But then we would return home. I would try my best to love and nurture the twins, but I was operating in survival mode. I was also truly exhausted. I poured out my heart to God time and time again. They were prayers of utter desperation, "Oh God, please, please, help me."  But in all honesty, all I could hear was silence. Looking back now, I can see that God was close, so close, but I couldn't really see it or sense it.

I wish I could say that things got better, but to be honest, things became worse. One of our twins, Alex, suddenly stopped breathing one afternoon. I seemed to be experiencing everything in slow motion. I called for my husband who quickly took Alex and began rescue breathing while I called the ambulance. Alex turned a dusky blue color, but then began breathing again. The doctor examined him at the emergency room, but couldn't find anything wrong. From then on, I lived in constant fear of this happening again. It did happen again - many times. I can't even explain the feeling of never knowing what a day would bring. We began to see a pattern that gave us some level of being able to predict a breathing episode. If it was warm one day and then the temperature dropped the next day, we could be fairly certain that Alex would have problems breathing. He would quickly develop croup,which always seem to lead to his system totally shutting down.

I prayed so many times. I was so full of fear and panic. I wasn't even sure God was hearing me. I had never felt so alone in my life. Somehow, Dave and I managed to get through life day by day, hour by hour, sometimes minute by minute. Dave has always been the strong one that I can lean on, but I know how hard it has been on him. I know the times that he has felt overwhelmed and exhausted, yet having to make life and death decisions. I don't know how many times I have seen him working on Alex and trying to get him to breathe again.

One time in particular stands out in my mind. Alex was once again taken to the hospital and admitted. Dave was with him on this day, while I had went  home to be with our other children. Alex's condition suddenly began to deteriorate. He began having trouble getting his breath and he asked Dave, "Say good job, Dad. Say good job." Dave leaned in close and said those words to him as he tried to calm himself and Alex. Dave called for the nurses and Alex was quickly put into the intensive care unit.  They gave Alex medication to put him in a coma like state so that he didn't have to fight so hard to breathe. After many anxious days, he was able to come back home. He had pulled through yet another time. He was just three years old.

It was some time later when we were visiting my parents in Mississippi, that we had a glimpse into that time he had spent in intensive care. He was sitting in my parent's living room and happened to see a photo of my aunt Loretta. He pointed to her photo and said, "I know her." My mom said to him, "Oh, honey, you never got to meet her. She is with Jesus now." Alex looked again and said, "I saw her. When I was very sick at the hospital, I saw her. She had on a white robe and she looked at me and said, 'Hallelujah!'" My mom and I looked at each other in wonder. He hadn't said anything about it until that moment when he saw my aunt Loretta's picture. That photo seemed to have triggered his memory.

*End of Part 1

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Friday, November 30, 2012

A Small Before and After

We recently bought a small furniture piece on clearance. I'm sure the salespeople wondered how many times I was going to come in and look at it before deciding to buy it.

We put it in the basement and there it sat for a few weeks. Actually, I wasn't sure I'd made the right decision in purchasing it. But after looking at it for awhile, I began to have some ideas...

This looks like a crime scene, but it's actually me trying to decide how a certain size rug would look there - with the use of masking tape.  Have you ever done the same thing? It made perfect sense to me:)

I tried out a mirror I had bought for our dining room from Hobby Lobby. It looked wonderful above it, but I really wanted to keep it in the dining room. We hadn't seen any more of these mirrors there, but after going in for another look, we found the same mirror for 50 % off. My husband's words to me when he saw the discounted price were, "God must really love you."

Next, we added a lamp from T.J. Maxx and my rug from an online site.

I love how it came out!

 See the couch in the background in our basement? I call it the couch that will not die. The couch and loveseat have been great - almost too great. We bought them in 1995 and they have survived 6 children. But I am ready for them to wear out already!

What have you been working on in your home this week? This time of year makes me want to create pretty things.

Happy Holiday season!

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pottery Barn Knock Off - The Mayflower

Last year, I was admiring this Thanksgiving item at Pottery Barn Kids. But it had a big price tag. If I remember correctly, it was about $50.00.

My husband and I were at Walmart and I spotted this wooden item back in the floral department by the vases, etc.  I thought it looked an awfully lot like a boat. And then I started thinking some more...

I went ahead and bought it, plus a few dowel rods, and some spanish moss to place inside. My husband thought he could put it all together with a few sails made from posterboard. My husband Dave is a great man! He always humors me in my holiday ideas:)

Then we added a few pinecones and voila! A Pottery Barn knock-off for a mere ten bucks and change!

We put this on the kids' table last year and it will make an appearance there this year as well. (Also, your older kids could even help in making this craft with you.)  I have a PB kids Thanksgiving tablecloth that I purchased several years ago also that completes their holiday table. They all seem to enjoy having a "special" table, too:)

A little ingenuity can go a long ways! Happy Thanksgiving!

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Pain of Invisibility

Are you a quiet, background kind of person? Do you ever feel that you blend right into the wallpaper? Me, too. I feel a little invisible at times.

My (pastor) husband is the exact opposite. He loves people. He thrives in a roomful of people, while I feel exhausted if I've been around a group for a couple of hours.

I often struggle with the feeling that I'm not very important in the grand scheme of things, except in my own home. I love the mundane, ordinary things of life...laundry (well, most of the time), baking, grocery shopping, home schooling, being a mom. I love that I've been able to be home and be with my children during their growing up years and that I still have one "little one" to snuggle with. (I think a 7 yr. old still qualifies as a little person, don't you?)  I love hearing his feet coming down the stairs in the morning and seeing his sleepy face and tousled hair. I am so grateful!

But when I am away from home, I often struggle in finding my place. Even though I am in my forties, I sometimes feel like I've forgotten how to talk with "big" people. I feel like I am not very interesting. For example, when I've been out with my husband and a guest speaker for lunch, it can be almost excruciating because I honestly don't know what they are talking about much of the time and wouldn't know how to contribute to their conversation. My life is still about Sponge Bob, Drake and Josh, Disney Channel, recipes, phonics, and American Literature! But this is when my mind has to be renewed. It's a choice I have to make by putting the right thought into my mind, rather than the wrong one. I can tell myself that what I have to say is important.  I think this improves with practice. It isn't easy undoing years of the wrong thought patterns, but it can be done.

Eighth and ninth grade were torturous for me because being quiet was not the norm. That lead me to believe that I was faulty and that something was wrong with me. This belief creates a vicious cycle of thinking that is hard to break out of.

But I've come to know that being quiet also has a lot to offer. I like listening to people's thoughts and feelings, what they are struggling with, and believing with them that God will work their situation out for the best. I don't find it boring when someone is sharing their heart with me. Sometimes people just need to know that someone is willing to listen.

If you struggle with being quiet or feeling inferior in some way, I would love to agree with you that God will reveal to you that He delights in the way He made you. He can help you in the areas you may need help with, but He doesn't want to start from scratch with you and redesign your personality. You are valuable to Him just the way you are. He wants you to walk in the freedom of the knowledge of your value to Him. When we truly "know" how He looks at us, it changes the way we see ourselves.

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Thursday, October 25, 2012

Time to Decorate for Fall!

Last night my husband pulled out my fall bins from our storage room. I worked on it a little last night and wanted to share some of the photos with you. There's a lot of things I didn't get out yet. Some things I wait to pull out until the night before Thanksgiving when I'm getting the dining room table ready for the next day. That is one of my favorite moments of the whole year! I am never happier than when I'm getting ready for the holidays.

This is our living room mantel.

And this is a shot from our kitchen.

The lanterns were found at a local furniture store. I found the garland at Pottery Barn a few years ago. I usually try to go there just before Thanksgiving. In the past, they have marked fall decorations down at that time. Speaking of Pottery Barn, my husband and I came up with a great knock-off of one of their holiday decorations for much less. I'll be posting that one a little later.

And just in a little while, this guy will be making his appearance on our deck.

Hope you're all having fun this magical time of year! Blessings!

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Friday, October 19, 2012

The Simple Things

I haven't written a blog in awhile. There hasn't been anything big going on. We have just been doing our daily routines of home schooling, cleaning, cooking, etc. That list goes on and on sometimes. I have been reading a lot of other moms' blogs, though, and enjoying every minute. I read one yesterday and was so touched by her writing, that I put it on my facebook. If you get a moment, check this blog out:

It is a beautifully written post about staying home with your children when they are little. I hope you can take the time to read it.

It makes me thankful and oh so grateful, that I have been given the wonderful blessing of staying home with my kids from babyhood on. Even when we were living and working at a ministry called Teen Challenge (and money was tight), my husband was always on board with my staying home and taking care of each and every sweet baby.

Now my last "baby" is seven years old, but what fun we've had together!

Yesterday, my 15 yr.old was finishing up a long day of school work. I saw her sitting at the dining room table and felt the Lord speak to my heart, "Take her to Starbucks and get her a little treat." It was a rainy day, but we dashed out the door and had so much fun together.  We even squeezed in a few minutes at TJ Maxx before heading back home. (We had a good laugh when I discovered - as we were leaving the store -that I had forgotten my jeans were rolled way up at the bottom. I was totally oblivious to that fact the whole time I was window shopping).

It's a rainy day here again, but sometimes I like those days the best. Don't you love the look of yellow leaves blowing across the sidewalk? The whole world feels cozy to me on days like this.

The day is beginning and it's almost time to pull out the books again before having a couple days off for the weekend.

Wherever you are today, I hope you have a blessed and happy day!

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Wink From God

If you know me even a little, then you know that I am in the midst of my most favorite time of the year. My daughter and I drove to her orthodontist appointment yesterday and my heart was just so happy the whole drive there. The trees are in their autumn splendor here up North and every turn of the road seemed to show an even more beautiful sight.

That evening, my daughter and littlest boy and I drove down the road a little ways because of a sign that read, "Pumpkins $3.00".  I was over the moon! It was like God gave me a little wink and said, "I know how much you love this time of year, so I surprised you with a field full of pumpkins right by your house." Well, that is how I like to think of God. He loves giving us delightful surprises.

My little boy wasn't in the picture taking mood at this moment.

His good mood has returned!

Of course, I had to drive back there a few minutes later. This time big brother joined us.  Here they are giving us their rendition of "Waiting for the Great Pumpkin". It did seem like Linus and Sally should be sitting out there with them.

And now the front of our home looks like this.  I just need to add some yellow mums.

Happy October everyone!! There's joy all around - maybe even down the road from your house:)

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Asthma Bell

Here it is. The "asthma bell".

A few weeks ago, our oldest son, Evan, was having a lot of trouble with wheezing, coughing, and some shortness of breath. His inhaler had run out and I was searching through the medicine cabinet for anything that might give him some relief.

I came across some Prednisone pills and set them on the kitchen counter with a note for him. I went on to bed, but then sat up, worried. My husband's sister has severe asthma and has almost died during asthma attacks. I knew my son's asthma was NOTHING like that, but it suddenly occurred to me that I had seen a bell in the kitchen cabinet. (No, I have no idea why a bell was in my kitchen cabinet) So, I went downstairs, found the bell, and set it on his bed.  I figured that if he really ran into some severe problems with asthma during the night - however unlikely that may be - then he could just ring the bell. I mean, what if he woke up, gasping for air and he couldn't even walk to our bedroom? I have a very dramatic mind. But I knew I would sleep better if there was a plan.

Later, when I heard him get home, I called out to him about what the bell on his bed was for.  He came into our room laughing so hard. "Mother! I almost died laughing when I saw that bell and heard you say what it was for." I think he was wheezing and laughing at the same time. My husband looked at me a bit incredulously that I would place a bell on my son's bed,  but I ask you...

Isn't that what we mothers are for?
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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Crisp Weather Means Pumpkin Crisp

When September rolls around, I love to begin baking anything pumpkin-y. This recipe comes from the November 2005 issue of Southern Living. (Notice those lovely fall colored nails holding the magazine - aren't they groovy?)

 The dessert is called Pumpkin Crisp and I've been making it during this season for the past 7 years. It's easy to put together and so good with either whipped cream or ice cream.

Here are a few of the main ingredients.

The recipe is as follows:

1 15 oz. can pumpkin
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 box butter-flavored yellow cake mix
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup melted butter

Stir together first 5 ingredients. Pour into a lightly greased 13 x 9 pan. Sprinkle the dry cake mix evenly over the pumpkin mixture; sprinkle evenly with the chopped pecans. Drizzle melted butter evenly over pecans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour and 5 minutes OR until golden brown. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm with whipped cream (sprinkled with nutmeg) or ice cream.

I add pecans to only half the pan since my kids aren't fond of nuts


Since I haven't posted a blog in a couple of weeks, I thought I'd add a few more photos for you to look at.

This beautiful bouquet was given to me by my son, Evan, who saw them at the Farmer's Market and knew I'd like them. Aren't they pretty? I don't know what the puffy, round flowers are called.

It's starting to feel cool and fall-like outside. I snapped a picture of some flowers on the deck.

Last, but not least, my favorite candle has always been Yankee Candle's Buttercream. I love having one burning in the kitchen on a cool fall or winter's day.

I hope you enjoy the dessert and these lovely days of fall. I was in Target yesterday and guess what? There was one aisle with Christmas cards displayed already! Yippee and Happy Fall, y'all!

Home Stories A2Z
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