December 31, 2010

Much Needed Break

With my last blog entry having been over two weeks ago, it appears I slipped off the edge of blog-land. Truth is I haven't fallen off anything, I haven't been ill, my fingers type fine, and all faculties are in working order. We haven't been overly busy or stuck in a snow storm like some poor folks. We've simply been enjoying the holiday break with family and catching up on some much needed rest. I guess I needed a break because I feel more refreshed and ready to hop back on the blog wagon. Amidst the respite, however, life carried on; the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Jimmy's bathroom is mostly complete,
now my bathroom is in surgery.
I lost my sink yesterday...

But the new couch arrived!
We took the tree down the day after
Christmas to accommodate.

My vanity came too.

The VCR died just as we loaded the movie
Inception, so we pulled the
DVD player from downstairs.
It delayed our start but it was worth the wait.
(Great movie but pay close attention
or you won't understand a thing.)

Jimmy bought a Blu ray to replace the DVD player.
I'm quite sure this piece of equipment is over my head.
I don't want anything to do with it yet.
(It's the black thing in between the two silver things.)

All in all we had a wonderful time celebrating the Prince of Peace's birth. So, I'm curious, what did you do over your Christmas break?

December 11, 2010

Festive Details

Now that our Christmas tree is reassembled and ready to usher in holiday cheer versus sorrow and pity, I'm enjoying the enterprise of assembling presents for family and friends. Since mom and dad passed away our family seems to have shrunk dramatically in ways, while admittedly expanded in others. We continue to keep in touch with nearly half of the nine puppies our son's dog delivered in our home two Thanksgivings ago and it's always a joy to wish them a dog-on Merry Christmas. We exchange dog pictures and invariably go gaga like proverbial grandparents. Just this week I arrived at work Monday morning to find an interdepartmental manila envelop on my desk. I couldn't imagine what it could be since most communication is done via email. A huge smile washed over my face to see it was a birthday card from Cocoa Bean's sister, Molly, whose grandma works at the hospital with me. If dogs could smile Molly was laughing in the picture. She is clearly very smart, quite happy, and nothing short of gorgeous, which is an answer to the prayers I prayed over each pup when only days old. God is so good and only He knows the heavy burden that weighed on my heart at the daunting task of finding homes for nine little pups. Somehow He did it and I have not forgotten his faithfulness to this day.

Then there's the tradition my best friend and I established years ago. Every year in mid-December we meet for lunch and exchange birthday and Christmas presents. My birthday is the 13th and her's Christmas day. We both look forward to our time together and this coming Thursday is our day. Oh how I thank God for her too. She's a faithful, rare, and godly friend. Through Debbie I've learned I don't need a large number of friends. One friend like my her far exceeds a legion of half-hearted acquaintances.

And who could forget the friends God has so richly blessed me with at work. Our department is wonderfully unique and rare as we partake in a year-round tradition of going all out for every birthday, holiday, and special occasion. It's not unusual for us to bring treats in just to make an otherwise regular day special. We don't keep hospitality to ourselves either. We reach out to other co-workers in both good times and bad. It's a ministry of sorts and I'm proud to be a part. I've been thinking and planning what to give my co-workers for Christmas since summer. We don't spend a lot of money or give extravagant gifts, just enjoy giving to those who have become extended family in many ways.

I have a few presents to start wrapping today and I'm looking forward to it. I'll be thinking and praying for each recipient, as well as thanking God for those He's brought into my life.

I'm curious. What holiday activity are you now undertaking? Whatever it is I hope you enjoy it and are blessed in the process.

December 8, 2010

Christmas 2010: Take Two

We've had our Christmas tree for about 18 years. Artificial trees suit me well because their size never changes, they don't drop needles, and set up and take down can be accomplished rather quickly and at my leisure.

We didn't always take the fake route though. We gave nature a good college try at first. In fact it was our first Christmas together that taught me my eyes were bigger than our home. Jimmy and I picked out a tree so big that by the time we got it home and in place, it looked as if we'd slain Goliath and brought him home for the holidays. Not only was the tree way too big for our narrow town home, but the tree farm failed to shake it before we took it away. We didn't understand the importance of this vital holiday step, so we brought it home in ignorant but temporary bliss. Within a week it began to unloaded more needles than our vacuum could handle, prompting us to recruit a wire coat hanger to coax one obstruction out after another. Why that tree farm didn't shake our tree before we took it home I'll never know.

After having our no-needle-dropping fake tree for nearly two decades, I feel as though I could put the thing up in my sleep, which is exactly what it looked like I did a week ago. So lackadaisical in the set up, it wasn't until I was done decorating that I noticed something was wrong. Easing my hands atop my hips, I squinted at the tree and said,"Somehow she doesn't look right but I'm not sure what it is." Jimmy agreed but couldn't put his finger on the problem either.

Pulling into the driveway the next evening her pretty lights in the living room window caught my eye. I felt hope grow in my heart thinking she'd for sure make it through the holidays with whatever problem that was ailing her. Then I saw another fateful flaw. She was was leaning like a midwest Tower of Pisa. What more could go wrong wrong with this tree? After closer inspection we discovered I'd done a lot of things wrong. Seems I'd placed her long lower limbs in the middle and shorter limbs below, skimped on the lighting, and propped her up lopsided. She had become a Charlie Brown tree that was too pitiful for even the cheeriest souls. Too many things were wrong so it was time for a makeover.

Note the long limbs in the middle,
short limbs below, and skimpy lights.

Even Poopsy had to get off for the redo.

Ornaments in the holding bay.

The naked tragedy.

Redone and doubly bright
with a total of 400 lights.
Even the dogs were proud.
I prefer not to focus on my inept attempt at decorating for the holidays. Amidst the remodel I feel blessed to have put up a tree at all. Let's just say my joy has been doubled with the gift of reenacting this fine holiday tradition twice in one week.

How about you? Any festive faux pas you care to share?

December 4, 2010

A Pure Heart

Jimmy and I were cleaning out the basement the other day when we uncovered a Bible I received in junior high. Believe it or not the school handed them out to each student and no one ever protested, got arrested, or filed a complaint. The precious gift of God's living Word was simply handed out pretty as you please. Seems like a miracle to me today.

Dani, our 22 year old daughter with Autism and deafness, was with us at the time and the moment her eyes lit on that little red Bible, she snatched it up quick as a whip. Holding the treasure inches from her face, she frantically fanned through the pages as a spark of excitement began to erupt within her. She had found a treasure that meant the world to her.

Amazingly enough she can identify a Bible out of a thousand random books, even when it's 1/4 normal size, bright red, and one she's never laid eyes on. With a heart fine-tuned directly on God, His word holds top rank in her heart. Whenever she sees a Bible she enthusiastically signs "Jesus" over and over and it always warms our hearts to watch her turn the pages of His book during church service, even though she can only read a couple of words. By the grace of God her limitations do not hinder her ability to commune with her Lord. She knows Him, He knows her, and it excites her to no end. She cries when she listens to Christian music and during communion, which no doubt immeasurably delights the heart of God.

When I was a little girl, Holy scripture amazed me too. I used to lay in bed at night looking at the New Testament red print and think, "Wow! Jesus actually spoke the words I'm holding in my hands." I'd scan my fingertips across the page as if absorbing its vast wisdom, while a feeling of wonder would invariably filled my soul. Since those early years I've learned first hand the rich blessings His word has brought into my life; comfort, joy, peace, wisdom, and guidance just to name a few. How wonderful it is to know it does the same for our sweet little Dani. He is faithful to his children and I praise Him for never forgetting even the least of His.

His love is vast and abundant for you too. May you feel his wonderful blessing of love for you today and through this holiday season.

"I tell you the truth,
whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine,
you did for me."
Matthew 25:40