Wednesday, December 31, 2014

why I can't sleep

This morning I awakened too early & couldn't go back to sleep. As I lie in my bed wishing I could shut my mind off, I soon realized I couldn't. After all, it's New Year's Eve Day (always a special day in my childhood memories). Every year, we had a party with my cousins. So much fun! My cousin always spent the night, & it was her birthday (double the fun)!

We played games, ate fancy food (like pizza), & celebrated the New Year. At what we thought was midnight, my brother (the Boy Scout) would open the front door, step outside, & play Taps on his bugle. His little sister thought this was pretty cool. It wasn't til I was in my 40's that I realized the joke was on me. Every year my folks set the clocks ahead. I thought it was midnight, but it was really only 9pm. I'm still stunned by this!

So… along came a marriage, settling down, having babies, & actually making a few friends. Before we knew it, we had a new New Year's tradition (celebrating with our new friends & their children). How did this happen? Our once new friends are now our long time friends. My Goodness… we've been spending New Year's Eve together for almost 25 years (when we are all well & in town).

One year in particular sticks out in my mind. It was the year 2 of our little ones did the Macarena in their skivvies. They were only 3 or 4. When I think about it, I still can't help but chuckle. Their big sisters put them up to it. There were the "Dolly" years. She'd sit by the fire with us in our old den. She was always a part of the party. She'd greet each person as they came to the door & even take them for a ride on her back. Oh…I miss her!

So, as I close out this blog, it's important that I get to my point. Yesterday, my husband & I were reminiscing about New Year's past (since our children were little). My point, & he nodded in agreement. These friends that we gather with; they have loved us unconditionally. They have been there for us through thick & thin. I think that's why I can't go back to sleep. I'm too excited about spending New Year's with them.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Why even bother?

New Year's Eve is only a few days away. It's a good time to reflect, a time to self-evaluate & think about a goal for the coming year. There are always the resolutions about losing poundage. Sometimes, they are about exercise & health (always good goals). In my youth leader days, I used to have the youth write & sign their resolutions. We would place them under lock & key. A year later, we would open them, & see if we met our goals. More likely, if we even remembered what they were.

I want my resolution to be meaningful. I want it to be unforgettable. I want it to be something I think about daily & truly try to achieve. Otherwise, why even bother? I'm all about good health, but I want my resolution to be about refining my heart. Is there something I need to change? Well…yes, of course. If my answer were no, I wouldn't be telling the truth.

Actually, I have a multitude of choices. So which one will I choose? Sometimes, changing an outward practice, perhaps a new discipline, can help change us on the inside? Just food for thought. I have something in my life many people don't have. Well, truly a lot of things (some others would want & some I couldn't pay others to take). Just a bit of humor & truth. But… what I'm speaking of here is TIME.

A friend once told me, "We all have the same amount of time; it's what we choose to do with it." That really is the truth. I don't think I have always chosen well. I have wasted time in so many ways. Sometime it's been through worry. Other times, shopping. Sometimes, I spin my wheels. I avoid making a healthy meal because I get caught up in other things. I love to be spontaneous, to fly by the seat of my pants, & sometimes it bites me in the seat of my pants.

So, this year, 2015, I want to make better use of my time. Less wheel spinning, less shopping, healthier cooking, fewer excuses. I'm not gonna lie. This will be hard for me. I think I will try to read a few books. I can't wait to get back to my Small Group Ladies. I am going to try to be more responsible but still a kid at heart. I don't want to lose my spontaneity. It's a gift from my mom. I just want to try harder to do the right thing & not the "Susie" thing.

Next year, I will go back & read this. I will let you know how I did. Love you all & Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

We had no choice.

Today marks the one year anniversary of someone who is dear to our family. A year ago, she made her mark, as she was born amongst some mighty odds. Her mama had been hospitalized for 3 weeks (I think). Her due date was January 16th. We were told that each day in the womb equaled 3 days outside the womb. Even though our strongest inclinations were to meet this tiny lil being, we new that each day, we needed one more day.

So… we painfully took one day at a time. Really, we had no choice. Each day we gave to God; each day we trusted in Him. Really, that is all we could do. Her mama suffered. I suffered with her. Her Daddy overcame his fears that night. He was there; he didn't miss a beat. The unknowns were great, but the Hope in our hearts was far greater.

Finally, somewhere in the middle of the night, a babe was born. Barely 5 pounds, she was the most beautiful & delicate lil being I've ever known. Her tiny ears were paper thin; she had no eye lashes. Over the next few months, I  recall hearing her mother say, "Lily, you are just too little." Hard times awaited us, but we would do our best to meet whatever came our way. Really, what else could we do?

Her Mama went home from the hospital without her Lil Sweetie Pie. It's not supposed to be that way. Each day we trusted in her medical team. Each day we prayed & we prayed. We had no other option. We cried our tears. We knew our fears (but we spent lil time expressing them). Our hearts were heavy, but our Hope was greater.

As Lily made her way through the thresh hold of her home one very cold & snowy day, we were overjoyed, but we were overwhelmed. Our fears were great, but we had her home. Her Mama took one moment at a time. She met each & every lil need, & Lily began to flourish. Daddy was in love. He called her "Sweets" & too this day, I always smile when I hear him say, "She's so pretty."

So one year later, our beautiful story has only gotten sweeter. She is spunky & loves to play. Measuring spoons are her favorite. She babbles. The sound of her baby voice is so precious to my ears. She has a big scream for such a tiny lil being, but really, it's that gusto that helped bring her through each difficult day. I love her more than words. Today, I celebrate Lily.

Friday, December 26, 2014

So… How was your Christmas?

Today I was out & about for a little bit. Everywhere I went, people seemed to ask me, "So…how was your Christmas?" Hmmnnnn… I hemmed & hawed a little (trying to decide how truthful I should be). Yep, that's right. I've had worse Christmases, & I've certainly had better.

My husband ran a fever of 102 all day. My daughter is sick.  Our gathering which was postponed from the week before has again been postponed. If it doesn't happen soon, I'm afraid we will just deliver our gifts & call it a day.

So with much preparation & great anticipation on my end, Christmas has come & gone, but it never really came this year. Nope… it didn't seem like Christmas at all. We made it to our Christmas Eve service. I enjoyed every song, every child, the reading of the Christmas Story, & communion. Yes… that felt like Christmas.

My house has been decorated since mid November. I have religiously lit my candles each evening & enjoyed the twinkle of each light. I baked cookies galore & thought over & over how thankful I am for my new kitchen. My presents were wrapped so long ago, I cannot remember what lies under the pretty paper.

Sometimes, the best laid plans are for naught. It feels a little empty, but whether or not our plans occur doesn't change the fact that a Savior was born. My unkept plans need not rob me of the HOPE I have every day of the year because of Christmas Day. My plans went astray (just as they oftentimes do). It's okay. Jesus is still King of my heart.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

We are still together...

It's Christmas Eve Day, & who has time to read this blog? And… why do I have time to write this blog? Truth is… I just have a few Christmas thoughts I'd like to share. I think some of what is on my mind must surely have to do with my age. For some reason, my mind keeps going back to my childhood Christmases…

This night was always magical. I loved going to the evening church service complete with candle light. Afterwards, we always went to a family gathering with foods I didn't recognize. I loved this gathering, but I was always worried that I needed to get honme to get to sleep so Santa would come.

Finally, we would get home. We could open one gift. Bingo. It was always a nightgown! I couldn't wait to put it on & have my Daddy tuck me into bed. Yes… he checked under my bed, in my closet, brought me a glass of milk, said prayers… It was our nightly ritual, complete with a kiss on my forehead.

I'd lie in my bed & listen to whatever conversation I could hear going on in the living room which was right outside my bedroom door. Eventually, I would drift off to sleep only to awaken at 5am to see what Santa had brought. It was always a doll, & I was always happy beyond measure. My brothers & I opened our gifts exclaiming with all the wonderment one house could hold. We were blessed, & we felt it.

Sometimes we counted oranges & apples. Hmmnnn…. was Santa real? I think in our hearts, we had it all figured out long before we ever admitted. We wanted to believe. After all, if we didn't believe, he might not come anymore. So now, we are all grown up. Our parents reside in Heaven. Our children our grown.

We have our memories. Yes, our precious memories. We have our faith. We want to believe. We do believe. Only, our belief has gone from Santa to our Savior, our Hope for all mankind. From one small family, 3 small families have come. Our children have grown. Some of them have babes of their own. We are no longer physically together on Christmas morn, but in our hearts, we have our precious memories. Yes… we are still together.

Friday, December 19, 2014

I cling...

As Christmas Day nears, I have so many emotions, I can hardly rest. I have become keenly aware of so many people who are finding it hard to grab the part of Christ mas that matters most. In fact, He is the only part that truly matters. To say He is the reason for the season sounds cliche…

Please don't get me wrong. I love Christmastime more than anyone I know. If I just sat in my home each  night & stared at my tree, I would be content. I find meaning in that tree. I have my manger scene displayed on my mantle. That says it all for me. That's enough.

But…then I take a glance outside my door (& even inside my own door), & I realize (without a doubt), that if we didn't have this part of Christ mas that matters, we would have nothing at all. If this Baby Jesus weren't born in a cave so long ago, we would not have HOPE. Without the HOPE that He brings, I would surely shrivel up & die.

Life is hard, & that's all I know. Yesterday, I looked into the eyes of a woman newly diagnosed with breast cancer. I know that fear. It's is so real to me, even 3 years later, my heart cried. I felt sick. I recently visited with my 68 pound friend who's body has been ravaged by cancer & treatment. My heart breaks. She is dear to my soul.

I have friends who's teens struggle. Again, my heart hurts. That pain is unbearable. I am consciously aware of those who have so little. When I visited Chicago, I read the signs displayed by the suffering. I must admit, it was daunting. It was hard for me to eat my meal & not think about those starving souls, so broken in every way.

The clock keeps ticking, the suffering continue to suffer, the homeless continue to live in the cold (alone) with maybe a blanket or two. Kind hearted souls are tormented by their own thoughts. Hopelessness surrounds us. It swallows us up & tries to dissolve the ONLY HOPE we have.

As I walk through this life. I face my trials. Some of them make me want to crawl in a hole & isolate myself. As I look outside my door, the trials of those I know are even more overwhelming than my own. And… what about the souls who suffer around the world that I don't even know?

So… I bake my cookies. I lovingly decorate each one. I bye gifts for those I love. Yes…I get carried away. I pray for those who hurt. I absorb the Christmas music. I walk amongst the hustle & bustle. It does put a little ginger in my step. I cling to my Christ. He is the ONLY HOPE I know.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Ho Ho Ho or NO NO NO

Some say HoHoHo while other Mommies & Daddies say NoNoNo. Some enjoy the Santa tradition while others justify why they don't partake. And then, of course, some of us must justify why we lie to our children. Will they believe anything we say if we tell them there is a Santa Claus?

I grew up believing in Santa Claus. I continued this tradition with my own children. I have no regrets. When a child reaches the double digits, it might be time to level with them. After all, we don't want them to be made fun of for believing, & we don't really want them to hear the truth from somebody else's unbelieving child.

Here's the cold hard facts… to each his own. There is no wrong or right. Do what you want with your family & don't bother pushing your values on anyone else just to make yourself feel better or seem a little bit holier than the rest of us. On the other side, don't feel you need to explain why you believe in Santa Claus. It's a personal choice.

I read a blog today about lying to your children being more difficult than stuffing Santa down a chimney. I'm not even a mom of young chidden anymore; yet, it ruffled my feathers. It's an age old argument. It will never change. Your choice may depend on the temperament of your child. If believing in Santa causes too much anxiety, it may be better to be honest.

On the other hand, childhood is fleeting. Children grow up faster than they used to. 10 is the new 12. If I can hang onto something magical, see a little extra excitement in the air, why not? I love the Nativity Story more than any other story on earth. When my children reached the double digits, I never said, "Guess what, the Nativity story is make-believe (like I did with Santa)..." No, it's not… It's a timeless truth. That precious story lives on forever… & ever...

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

along came Lily...

Last night I was looking through some photos that one of my youngest daughter's professors took when he visited what was left of our home. After the tornado, people (professors & students) from her Community Art Department at her College came to help. They did something quite amazing…

In helping, they also salvaged a few remains. With permission, they took some of them back to school, & created beautiful tables out of doors, centerpieces, shadow boxes, & so many intricate & creative displays. They then had a celebration. We were the guests of honor. It was all about restoration. It was joyful. It gave my mind a break from all the turmoil at the time. It amazed me that my door became a table.

As I was looking through these photos, I noticed that my middle daughter was pregnant. FLASHBACK… one year ago, Lily had not yet come into this world. What followed only weeks after the tornado, was a fight for her little life (& my daughter's). Little did we know the day those photos were taken, we were about to embark on another adventure.

Toxemia took its toll. My daughter was hospitalized, & Lily was born at least 3 weeks early. Just a few days after her birth, she was put on a monitor & remained in the hospital while my daughter ( a new mommy went home). To say the least, this was yet another difficult time for all of us. We did the only thing we could; we took one day at a time.

So… almost 12 months later, we have this blonde & blue eyed little replica of her daddy. She has such a happy personality. She lights up more than any lil girl I've ever known. She babbles in her own precious language. She explores my home in her walker. I cannot imagine the miles those tiny little feet travel in a few hours.

Getting Lily here was one of the most difficult journeys Gram has had to face. Seeing my daughter struggle & then seeing her newborn baby compromised was almost more than a mother/grandmother could handle. BUT… amidst the cold frigid weather, the heavy snows, the ice & winds, God brought forth this little angel. She is my lil snuggle bunny. A day with Lily warms Grams heart better than sunshine.