Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Memories 1

My cousin graduated from college last weekend.  I am so proud of her and wish I could be there to celebrate with her, however this is not possible.  I do however want her to know how much I have been thinking of her.  You see, I was 14 when she was born and I loved babies.  I felt like I had my own real live baby doll and I wanted to babysit every chance I got.  When I turned 16 and got my license, she was my sidekick.  My uncle and aunt allowed me to take her with me out and about and we had great fun together.  Since she started talking she has called me "Ro," she still does to this day.  At the risk of embarrassing her in a major way, I want to share a favorite memory of her from Christmas time. 
I couldn't find a good picture of the two of us to match this post, but here I am holding her after her baptism.  The 90's were alive and well ~ check out my clothes and hair!

We used to take lots of walks around the neighborhood and we'd talk about what all we saw.  At Christmas one year, she had to be 2 or 3, we were walking when I took her to a house with the light-up nativity in the front yard.  I knew the people who had this, they were church members and knew they wouldn't mind if I brought her into the yard for a closer look.  That became our "thing" that we did together.  Whenever she wanted to go see it she would say, "I want to go pet the baby Jesus, Ro."  So we'd walk to see the nativity and she would go up to baby Jesus and rub his little head and talk to him.  It was so sweet to be a part of that special time as she talked to Jesus and "petted" his head.  That was 20 years ago and as I drove by that same nativity the other night, I thought of that Christmas and how Jesus was becoming real to her at such a young age.  It seems like it was only yesterday and here she is graduating from college.  My how the time does fly! 
I stole this graduation picture from her facebook page.  Hope she doesn't mind!
So proud of you, girlie!!  

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Celebrating a Special Lady

Today is a very special day for a very special lady. 

Today is my Mema's birthday. 

She's not just my Mema, but she is also my friend.
Throughout my entire life, she has been there when I needed her and she's been one of my biggest cheerleaders.
When I was born, my mom had some complications and had to go back in the hospital.  Mema took care of me and even tried to sneak me up to the hospital so my mom could see me. 
As a toddler, I would go on walks with Mema and she was patient enough to let me lift every trash can lid while I was looking for Oscar the Grouch.  She read me book after book when I continuously brought them to her.
In elementary school she would come and eat lunch with me and then go out to the playground and actually climb on the jungle gym with me. 
As a teenager, she was a great listener when I wasn't happy with things my parents had said or done and while she tried not to take sides, there were times that she did go to them on my behalf.
When my Grandaddy died I moved in with Mema and we were roommates for several months.  It was a tough time for both of us but I will always cherish those late night chats.
As the oldest grandchild, I have always felt like she and I had a close relationship, one which has only grown now that I have children of my own.  I love watching her with the twins as she has tea parties, takes walks, watches Prince play wii and attends their school functions. 
Happy birthday to my Mema, my friend, and a very beautiful and young great-grandma!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Just Call Me McGyver

Yesterday afternoon was not like I had planned ~ and you know I am all about the plan.  I had a to-do list a mile long and as I was checking off one very important thing, picking up my lovelies from school, I came out to find a flat tire.  I tried to call my sister but couldn't get her.  I hated calling Hubby, as he works an hour away, but I needed to talk this through with him.  There was something metal in my tire and I needed to know what he wanted me to do.

Hubby: Can you get air in it and see if it will hold till you get to Sears?
I was contemplating this and wondering where I would get air in the school parking lot.  Then I remembered that Hubby took the car-powered compressor out of his truck the other night and it was put back in my car.  Put air in the tire ~ CHECK!
The air was coming right back out of the hole made by this metal tube thing.  Meanwhile, Princess is squatting down next to me saying, "Mom, I think we have an oil leak.  Do you see that stuff dripping from the car?  It's oil."
"No, we don't.  It's from the a/c.  It's supposed to do that."
"No Mom, I think it's oil." 
Whatever Princess, I can only do one thing at a time.
As I was discussing this with Hubby, we both came to the same idea at the same time.  I chewed a piece of gum and stuck it on the hole.  It would hopefully hold until I could get to the store.  Princess had to offer her two cents worth, "Gross Mom, the tire people are going to have to touch that gum that was in your mouth to fix the tire!"  Did I mention that by this time it was raining?

Here is the gum I stuck on the tire.

I quickly loaded the kids back in the car with a quick prayer that we would make it 3 miles to Sears to get this tire fixed.  As we were driving there, Princess and I started singing:

This is the stuff that drives me crazy
This is the stuff that's getting to me lately
In the middle of my little mess
I forget how big I'm blessed
This is the stuff that gets under my skin
But I gotta trust You know exactly what You're doing
It might not be what I would choose
But this is the stuff You use

At some point in the afternoon Prince said, "This is the worst day ever."  It could have been, but there were so many things that went right about this situation.  The compressor that doesn't live in my car, was put in my car and for some reason left there.  We weren't on the road when the tire went flat.  I found it that way in their school parking lot.  The rain held off long enough that I wasn't standing in a downpour while I put air in the tire.  I was able to make it to the store without stopping and we have their road hazard plan so they fixed it for free.  Just the night before I had been riding on the interstate and it was late, dark, and the roads were wet.  It didn't happen then.  God had His hands all in this.  Yes, it was an inconvenience, but it was manageable.  After talking to Prince and Princess about this, Prince said, "You're right Mom.  We are really blessed." 
These little inconveniences can really serve as wake-up calls that God is in the small stuff and He covers us with a hedge of protection each day if we will ask Him to be there.  I know that He was with my every step of the way and the Holy Spirit worked in my soul to keep me calm and help me to solve the problem.

And now for your listening pleasure, This Is The Stuff

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Away in a Manger

These are two of my favorite Christmas pictures of Prince and Princess.  They were taken when they were just 2 years old.  Hubby's office was in the alumni house (the old president's house) when we lived in Georgia and it was a gorgeous building.  We took Prince and Princess up there one weekend to take Christmas pictures of them in their outfits.  These were actually not the posed shots, but candids while Hubby was getting ready to pose them.  Prince is holding his Fisher Price baby Jesus from their little Fisher Price nativity set.  They both loved to play with the nativity pieces ~ they still do ~ and especially to carry around baby Jesus. 

Once I heard of someone who said they didn't put baby Jesus in their nativity until Christmas.  They said that it helped them to be mindful of the meaning of advent, the waiting for baby Jesus to arrive.  I have thought a lot about that over the years since I first heard it.  I think it's a creative way to illustrate the waiting for our Savior's birth, but I could never do it.  It isn't that I can't wait until Christmas or can't stand the anticipation.  I couldn't do it because I want to look at the baby Jesus as long as I can.  I want to see that baby and remember him, that He is the reason for this season, that He came to save me from my sin.  I have nativities in many rooms of my house and I like it that way.  I like being able to keep my focus on Jesus and to have that visual reminder that my Christmas trees are beautiful and the presents are plentiful, but that the real gift is found in this tiny babe that was born 2,000 years ago who came for me.  When I look at these pictures I think they illustrate what I want my kids to grow up with ~ a hands-on approach in their relationship with Christ and the constant reminder that Jesus is Christmas.  That tiny baby in the hay is love, and he loved us enough to be born human and then to sacrifice his life for our sins, dying on the cross for me, for them, for you.  

Monday, December 12, 2011

Advent Devotional Idea

When I was little, one of my favorite parts of advent was when we were in church and families would come up and light the advent wreath.  I especially loved it on the few ocassions that my family was asked to read and light a candle.  Many moons ago before Hubby and I married, I bought my own advent wreath and it has been a part of our Christmas tradition in our home ever since.  We keep it in the middle of our dining room table and have devotionals while lighting the candles and discussing what Christmas is really about.  Yesterday's advent devotional had a really great idea in it and Princess loved it so much that she has latched on and decided on a new tradition.

Yesterday we lit the candle of joy.  We talked about how even though Mary had every reason to be afraid, she expressed joy in God's favor.  The angels comforted the frightened shephers with joy of good news.  And that the joy we find isn't in our circumstances, but in our relationship with God in Christ. 
The suggestion at the end of the devotional was that whenever you turn on your Christmas tree lights say, "Christ is welcome in this home," or "Jesus, the light of the world, the joy of our hearts."  As I was tucking Princess into bed last night I noted that she had turned on her Christmas tree on her dresser and she immediately said, "Yes, but I need to turn it off and do it again."  When I asked why she said that she had forgotten to say something when she did it.  So she hopped up, unplugged her tree and plugged it in again saying, "Christ is welcome in this home." 

I agree with Princess.  I really like this and I think we'll adopt it as a new tradition, a reminder that Christ is indeed welcome in our home and also that Jesus is the light of the world and the joy of our hearts.  Praise be to God!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's Christmas Time in the City

Last night was our city's Christmas Parade.  It wasn't a holiday parade, it was clearly called the city's Christmas Parade.  Our church had a float that my dad spent quite a bit of time decorating and he pulled it with his truck.  It was great fun to ride on the float and wave to people.  I was in many a parade back in my teenage days when I was in the band, but this is different.  In band, I was concentrating on playing my clarinet or being drum major and keeping everyone together and in step, etc.  This was different because it's low pressure.  I want to share a couple of things that I thought of while riding down the street last night.

1.  Everyone dropped the political correctness and there was an ease as people shouted "Merry Christmas!"  They weren't afraid of offending anyone, they were truly joyful as they said it.
2.  You can tell a lot about people by looking into their eyes.  I saw a lot of people that I didn't know as we rode through the parade route and I tried to establish eye contact with as many people as I could.  As I did, I offered a warm "Merry Christmas," but I also prayed for each individual.  There were people there that I could tell had a lot going on in their lives.  They were trying to enjoy being in the moment, but you could see there was a story behind their eyes.  Haven't you ever plastered on the fake smile in an attempt to forget about your worries and problems?  I know I have and I witnessed others doing so last night.  It was my privilege to go to the Lord on their behalf and ask that He work in their lives. 
3.  I spotted the sweetest baby in the crowd.  His dad was holding him and sitting on the curb.  I'm not sure how old he was, maybe 3 or 4 months old, but he was just watching the lights and taking it all in and just so quiet.  But I noticed his eyes and the innocence and I thought about baby Jesus, the reason we celebrate Christmas.  I thought about how if Jesus came as a baby today, Joseph might have taken him to a parade and spent time in other activities that we do each day.  One of the most extraordinary things about Jesus was that he came in an ordinary way, as a baby and I'm sure Mary changed her share of dirty diapers and sang her share of lullabys for a fussy baby. 

It was a great time and the positive energy from the crowd as well as those in the parade made it a wonderful evening.  We came home and drank hot chocolate and watched a family movie together.
I'm so glad we were a part of the Christmas Parade and as I meet others in the stores or anywhere else I go, I will continue to say Merry Christmas, for truly it is the Christmas season and I make no apologies for that.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Thou Shalt Not Covet

A few days ago Prince, Princess and I were in the grocery store.  We were walking along and Prince begins telling me about a spy kit he wants for Christmas.  I was in the zone, trying to think of what else I needed to get as he is talking about this really cool toy he wants.  I will admit that I was half listening when Princess mentioned that she wanted one too and did I think she could get one for Christmas too.  Below is the conversation as it took place.  I can't make this stuff up ~
Princess: Mommy, do you think I could get that too? 
Me:  I don't know if we need two of them in our house.  Don't you think one is plenty and you can share?
Princess: Listen Mommy, I need to tell you something.  Do you know what coveting is?
Me: Yes, I know what coveting is.  Do you know what it is?
Princess:  Coveting is wanting what your neighbor has and we've been learning about it in school and it's a sin.
Me:  That's right.
Princess: So if Prince gets the spy thing and I don't get one I might covet what he has and that would be bad but if you will go ahead and just buy me one then I won't want it cause I'll already have it.  See?  Then I won't have to covet.

I think I'm in trouble.  We send her to a Christian school to learn the Bible and she's definitely doing that, but this child is smarter and has more angles than I could ever think of.