Sunday, December 28, 2008

Florida - Day One

December 28. 80 degrees.

We have spent today sitting by the pool, taking a walk, eating seafood while sitting on the deck, wading in the ocean, and being with the people I love the very most in the whole wide world. Can it get any better?

I don't think so. Especially as we hear the reports of the blizzard taking place at home. Oh, we are having a white Christmas alright. On a white, sandy beach! And we are totally loving it!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Florida, Florida, Here We Come!

I am sitting in the airport in Los Vegas waiting for our connecting flight to Florida. I am with three of my daughters, two sons-in-law, two grandbabies, mother-in-law, husband, brother-in-law and me. Daughter #2 arrived in Florida yesterday and my mother is on another flight - first class - courtesy of my brother. So that is a total count of 11. Eleven of us heading for Florida for a whole week to spend time together.

We weren't sure we were all going to make it on the plane this morning - for some reason Southwest only had three of their six counters open and the line was a mile long. They held the plane for us and we were the last to board. But we made it and the first leg of the flight was okay.

Have I mentioned that I really hate to fly. Oh, yeah, I guess I have.

Tonight I will be sleeping with palm tree breezes.

I am so blessed.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Christmas Spirit

Not one, but two of my good bloggy friends bestowed this sweet award upon me. So thank you Becky and Dawn (who has a private blog much to her dismay) to be so sweet as to pass this award on to me.

The rules say you have to list your five favorite things about Christmas. So here is my Christmas countdown!

5. My tree ornaments. Most of them are handmade and they are filled with love and sentiment and special memories. They aren't worth a penny to anyone else, but they are the first material thing I would grab if my house were on fire.

4. My sewing room. I love making Christmas gifts and when my sewing room is filled with fabrics and patterns and supplies to make things I get overcome with excitement. I love spending time picking out colors and patterns that I know would make others happy. I really can't describe how it makes me feel. Just happy I guess.

3. Our Christmas Eve Candlelight service. I especially love the 11:30 p.m. service that lasts a half an hour. I love ushering Christmas day in by being in my church focusing on the true meaning of Christmas. I loved when my girls were little, taking them in their jammies. I love the sweetness of everyone there as we wish each other a Merry Christmas as we leave. I love that we are the last ones to leave the building and walking home together.

2. My husband and I have always filled each other's stockings. And every year, after the Candlelight service we go home and fill our girl's stockings. And every year we decide to open our stockings together before we go to bed. It's very late by then. But what a special time we have as we sit by the light of the tree and share our gifts with each other. And in the morning we watch as our girls dig into their's. All of us have always loved our stockings the very most.

And drumroll please. Now for my top favorite thing about Christmas.

1. My favorite tradition of Christmas is when I give the girls their handmade ornament for the year. I don't know why but this is Christmas to me. The girls come home with their families and we share a fancy dinner together. After the dishes are done we gather around the tree that is decorated except that it is missing the star at the top. And every year my husband shares the story of how we made that star on our very first Christmas together. It's kind of a sappy, corny story but we all love it. Then he places it on top of the tree and I give the girls their ornaments. Last night was our special night. When we finished I read The Gift of the Magi and we spent the rest of the evening playing games. It's getting harder every year to have everyone be able to be here. But we will always have a remnant. And this will always be my favorite thing to do at Christmas.

So now, I am to pass this award on to 5 more people. Since Christmas is almost here I am not going to put this on anyone who may be busy just trying to get everything done. But if you have time, and want to join in, please do. And let me know. Because I want to know what your favorite things are about Christmas.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Different Kind of Christmas

This year's Christmas has been in the planning for a couple of years now. As I have mentioned before, our family has had numerous celebrations this year - anniversaries, special birthdays (all birthdays are special but I'm talking about the decade changing ones!), graduations, new babies, etc. So we decided a couple of years ago to take a family trip and originally we were going to Italy. But somebody forgot to tell the girls not to have babies until after the trip. Well, actually somebody did tell them not to have babies until after the trip - and thankfully they didn't listen.

So then we decided that perhaps a Mexican cruise would be nice. But then we learned that babies have to be at least 6 months old before they can go on a ship. Okay - nevermind.

We finally chose to go to Florida - as the one common denominator we all agreed on was that we wanted to go somewhere warm. So on December 27th - our kids, grandkids, mothers-in-law, and us are boarding a plane for Florida. We have rented a house for a week that has a pool and is only 2 blocks from the beach. We are stoked. Becky assures me that we will fit right in with all the other tourists wearing flip-flops and shorts while the natives are wearing their coats and handwarmers.

One of the stipulations was that if we take this trip there will be no Christmas present buying this year. All our money is going to the trip. I don't know how it is going to feel on Christmas morning to wake up and not have a single present to open, but I'm sure enjoying it right now. I cannot believe the stress it has taken off this holiday. Nothing to buy. Nothing to wrap. Nothing to exchange. It is wonderful!

Instead our gift is a week of being together, playing games, fishing, laughing, reminiscing, eating, and visiting the Mouse of course. Inevitably there will be some arguing and some stress. But that's okay - it comes with the territory of big families. With all the changes going on in our family, knowing that in just a few short weeks Michelle and Brad and Tyler will be leaving for three years, I plan on doing what Mary did - and just ponder all these things in my heart.

And because I can't seem to post anything these days without pictures of my sweet babies - I hope you don't mind indulging me!

I made these little Candy Cane hats for the babies. I envisioned them more like a stocking hat and not this Dr. Suess kind of look. Oh well.

This is the little sweater and hat I made sweet Ava from the Itty Bitty Nursery book. I want to make one in every size so she will always have one to wear - it's so snuggly!

Our sweet boy and girl. They are such blessings to our hearts.

Grandpa's boy

Friday, December 12, 2008

Friday Fave 5

Time for a Friday round-up of the best five things of the week. Susanna at Living to Tell the Story does such a great job with this. Go there to read more or add your own. It's fun!

My five favorite things of this week:

Yay! I found my camera! I looked for that thing all week long. It's not good to be a grandmother without a camera - you can be sure that those babies looked their cutest and made the sweetest faces all week long. And all I have to remember them by is my faulty memory. Bad grandma. But last night I finally found it. Under the cushion of the chair of course. Isn't that where every lost thing finds its way?

This week we had our annual church board/staff Christmas party. Every year I make them each a Christmas ornament as a small token thankyou for all the love and care they provide for us and our family throughout the year. Of course, this ornament must be different than the ones I make for my daughters. We have been in our church for 20 years now, and as you can imagine it is getting harder and harder to find ornaments to make. Last year my good bloggy friend The Butler's Wife gave me the perfect idea. She made these last year, and was even sweet enough to send me one!

So I made a whole flock of these sweet little doves to give away. I only have three little birds left - but everyone loved them. And I enjoyed making them. One of the very best things about blogging is the wonderful friends you meet and the creativity they share. Thanks Becky! You made lots of people smile!

Toasted cheese sandwiches have been a favorite this week. I don't know why but I have just been craving them lately. So I have had them for supper three days this week. One of the good things about having an empty nest!

My mailbox. It is so convenient to have our mail delivered right to our house. We have lived in places before where you have to go to the post office to get your mail. I like this so much better. I think I often take for granted these little conveniences.

Last night my husband was gone and I was home alone so I indulged myself by watching one of my most favorite Christmas specials - Santa Claus is Coming to Town!

I love that animated little show - and most people in my family don't care to watch it with me anymore. So I had fun. And I look forward to watching it with Tyler and Ava Claire someday.

Have a wonderful weekend. I haven't decided yet if I'm doing the bloggy tour of homes. I haven't even put up my tree yet! But I'll be sure to come and visit those who do.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Ornament - 2008

Disclaimer - Michelle, Tara, Andrea, Jessica - DO NOT READ THIS POST! I am giving you a moment to click off the page. Repeat - DO NOT READ THIS POST!!!

Allrighty then. Let's proceed.

Every year, for the last 28 years, I have made my girls a special handmade ornament for our Christmas tree. They each have their own little box that we store them in after Christmas. As they have married and/or left home, I give them their box to decorate their own trees with. I always remember our first Christmas tree. We spent $20 on the tree and we didn't have any money left to buy ornaments! So that's where my idea came from. My girls will have ornaments for their first trees!

It has always been a labor of love for me. I love finding the right ornament to make and spending the time to make them - realizing that for many, many years these ornaments will be loved and appreciated. Even after I am long gone, I think these ornaments will be passed down through the family and appreciated.

This year I have fallen in love with knitting. I have found much delight in working with two needles and yarn. And I have even become somewhat of a yarn snob! No more department store yarn for me. Once you work with quality yarn - you can't go back to the other. However, I made these ornaments out of simple cotton yarn bought at the drug store. And they turned out great.

I found the pattern here at Little Cotton Rabbits. Julie has other free patterns she has published on her blog as well. Everything she makes is just so sweet. Go check out her blog - you will enjoy it.

Anyway, usually the thought of knitting a sock would scare the bejeebers out of me. But these socks are not knit in the round. They are knit flat just using two needles and then you stitch up the back. Really simple. And really impressive.

I haven't given the girls their ornaments yet - I'm trying to organize a time to do it. It's always one of the best parts of Christmas for me.

Okay Tara girl. I know you well enough to know that you are still reading this post. You are so much like your mother its scary!!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


The tears are close to the surface today. It's strange - just when I think I'm getting a handle on my emotions, some little thing reminds me of what is to come and I lose all control. Some days I can talk about it and do just fine. Other days I should just stay home alone. Clerks in the baby department at Macy's don't know what to do with a customer who has tears running down her face as she holds sweet little baby boy clothes. Students at school don't comprehend when their test proctor is all red-eyed and sniffing. Mom's look a little worried at the mall when some strange woman can't take her eyes off their little cherubic baby boy riding in the stroller.

People tell me that I need to let go. They tell me this is God's will. They remind me I raised my girls to be obedient to God's voice.

I know.


I know.

But I also know this.

God knows my heart. He sees each tear that falls. He feels how much it hurts. He understands how big this sacrifice is.

And knowing this brings me untold comfort.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Friday Fave 5

I know you are supposed to only have a list of five favorite things of the week. But I couldn't pare down to five. I have six. I hope that's okay!

This week I turned in my last class assignment. What a relief. I have enjoyed my Magazine Writing class very much - and have even had one of my articles accepted for publication. But I have learned that writing on demand is a whole lot different than writing on my schedule. Of course, it's something I will have to adjust to if I plan to write - so it's been good training for me. But still, with Christmas and everything else going on in my life right now - it's good to be done for a bit.

I have recorded (gotta love DVR) several Christmas movies and whenever I can find a bit of time, I love curling up in my recliner with my sweet dog Josey and my knitting and just "escaping" for a couple of cheesy hours.

This weekend is our annual girls night out/cookie exchange. My daughters, mom, and sisters get together and exchange cookies and then we go to a movie. Tonight it's Australia. I can't wait. Last night my three girls came over and we made our cookies. Here's some pictures of all the activity taking place in my kitchen.

Um, no, we don't use cocktail sauce in our Christmas cookies! Andrea is patiently filling her pecan tassies.

Jess, striking a cheesy pose with her chocolate covered cherries.

Michelle displaying her naked peanut butter balls.

The packaging begins.

We finished up about 12:30 this morning. I hope I can stay awake for the movie tonight!

Jessica's first semester of college is ending and she learned this week that she got the highest grade in her english class. Watching the joy on her face as she told me was priceless. Jess has always had to work hard academically and she feared she would not do well in college. She has done wonderfully and I can't tell you how proud of her that I am. She has taken some demanding classes this semester and written many papers. Intro to Biblical Literature is not an easy class and she is doing great. Finals are next week - so we have lots more praying to do!

Listening to my new favorite Christmas song this year - Light of the Stable by Selah. Enjoy!

Susanna at Living to Tell the Story has a linky with lots more fave five's. You can click here to check out more or even add your own.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Some Good Reading

I just finished reading Searching for Spice and its sequel Out of Her Hands by Megan DiMaria. If you are looking for some fun chick lit to read or to give as a Christmas gift - I would recommend you check these out.

Searching for Spice is a story about an average, every-day wife and mom, Linda Revere, who has a nice home, two kids, a fulfilling job, and a solid marraige. But the kids are getting older, the job is getting more frustrating, and her marraige, well, her marraige just isn't "hot" anymore. So she comes up with a plan to add some sizzle to the mix! The end result isn't exactly the recipe she had in mind.. It was easy to read this book and see much of myself in Linda's character. I related with her hectic lifestyle and how her world revolved around her family.

The sequel, Out of Her Hands, continues with Linda's life as her kids are growing up and her college aged son brings home a girlfriend that is NOT the one Linda thought she had always prayed for. One of the things I love about the chick lit genre is that even though it is light and fun to read, there are deep messages involved too. I cried with Linda as she struggled with the concept of loving deep while letting go. Parenting adult children has challenges all of it's own and I thought Megan did a great job "writing a picture" of a mom who loves her boy. We may long for the days when our kids belonged only to us - but, alas, God has other plans.

Check out Megan's blog, Prisoner of Hope.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Miss Ava Claire's Dedication Day

I think of all the celebrations we have in church my very favorite is when we dedicate babies to the Lord. There is just something so sacred, so special, so meaningful during this ceremony. My husband has such a soft spot for little ones and when he has the privilege of bringing his own grandbabies before the Lord, well, it is a truly emotional and wonderful moment. This past Sunday was little Ava Claire's Dedication Day.

Here are some pictures of our little princess before the big event:

Gulp! The next time we see her in a long, white, flowing dress will be . . . sooner than we want - that's for sure!

Many years ago at the start of my husband's ministry, I wrote a little ceremony that he uses each time he dedicates a baby. It involves giving the father a red rose, the mother a white rose, and the baby gets a pink rose signifying the blending of the parents. Here is our sweet granddaughter receiving her rose.

Miss Ava Claire, you are indeed a blessing from the Lord, and I am honored, proud, and blessed to be your grandmother.

Monday, December 1, 2008

I'm Back

I hope you all had a very blessed and happy Thanksgiving day with your loved ones. We sure did. We went to the mountains this year and celebrated Thanksgiving with my husband's side of the family. We always rotate Thanksgiving and Christmas between his family and mine and that has always worked very well for us. But now that our kids are having kids - I can tell we are going to have to get creative with this. My mother-in-law lives about 120 miles away from us. We live in the desert. She lives in the mountains and it is beautiful there. Strangely, there was no snow. Usually the ski hills try to open on Thansgiving weekend - but not this year. It seems like the weather is about a month off these days. They get just as much snow as always but it is arriving about a month late and sticks around a month longer in the spring. We had a wonderful, traditional menu and visited with family we don't see often enough. I made my first pumpkin roll - surprisingly easy - I don't know why I thought it would be so hard! We played games and cards and ate some more. We snuggled with baby Tyler and baby Ava Claire. We simply enjoyed being together. Which to me is what I am most thankful for. Thanksgiving is a good day isn't it?

It was good for me to take a break from blogging. I started realizing that every post I started was negative and I knew I needed to take some time to regroup and re-focus. I'm better now. I'm still having a difficult time trying to wrap my heart and my head about what is to come - but I'm doing better. And I'm ready to share what is happening in our family.

Oddly enough, it isn't a bad thing. In fact, it's a good thing and the first thing I want to say is how very proud I am of my daughter and son-in-law for being so open and willing to listen to God.

Brad and Michelle have accepted volunteer positions to work with a program called Extreme Nazarene in Peru for the next three years. As in, they are willing to sell everything they have including their house, and move to South America to use their skills and educations to help people who are helpless and hopeless.

As in, quitting their jobs and becoming totally dependent on volunteer supporters.

As in taking my sweet little grandson to another country to live. He won't come home again until he is almost four years old.

Hence, my anguish.

For the first two weeks after hearing this news, I cried more than I ever knew it was possible. My word did I cry. I thought I would dehydrate. It was so frustrating that I couldn't even think about it without tearing up in the most inconvenient of places. My office. The grocery store. Driving down the road. And church. Especially church. I have argued with God and yelled at God and pleaded with God and bartered with God. I finally just hushed up and stared reading His Word. I picked up my neglected Bible and strongly felt the Spirit urging me to read Matthew. And no kidding, the first page my eyes fell on was Matthew chapter 10. And I began to read about how if you love your daughter (and my Bible seemed to include son-in-law and grandson) more than you love God, then you are not worthy of Him. I read it several times and I knew I had to stop fighting what seems so inevitable.

They have a lot to do before they can really go. They are supposed to be there in Peru by February 10. February 10 is Michelle's birthday. Weird. They have to sell their house and their vehicles and raise half of the financial support they will need. It is a huge and monumental task before them. And I have to agree that if they are able to do it, it will only be because it is a God thing. And I am slowly beginning to understand that I not only have to accept this, I also have to help them.

I have to help them do what they need to do to move my sweet little boy to another country. For three years. I don't know how it will be humanly possible. Well, actually I know it is not humanly possible. I am depending on God's help to pull this off because no way can I do it on my own.

When I hold that sweet boy, tears just flow down my face and wash his hair. I hold him so tight he grunts at me. I have no idea how I am going to function not hearing his first words, not celebrating his first or his second or his third birthday with him, not seeing his first steps. It pains me more than I can write that we, his grandparents, will be strangers to him by the time he gets home.

I never knew that a broken heart could acutally hurt so much physically.

So there you have it. That's what has been going on in my life lately. Wow -talk about something coming out of left field. This was so unexpected and unplanned for. I feel like I am finally able to at least breathe normally. I can talk about it now and not cry. So I am making progress!

And I am realizing that I am indeed blessed to have a daughter who is doing what we raised her to do - obey God. And I am blessed to have a son-in-law that I know will take such good care of her and little Tyler - even in a foreign place. And if this truly happens, I know that I am blessed to be supported by a wonderful family and church family that will help me get through it. And I have been blessed beyond belief to have a sweet and beautiful little granddaughter that will help fill the void in our hearts and arms.

In the meantime, I am loving on a certain little boy like you can't believe and trying to figure out how I'm going to make it be enough to last for 1,095 days.