November 30, 2008

let the adventure begin

Advent is my very favorite season... I know it is not a season season, but it is my favorite, nonetheless. I have had years when Christmas has gotten lost... not the meaning of Christmas, but the celebrations. I ran out of time... ran out of patience... ran out of joy. And when I realized that I was rushing through the very best part of the year, I had to readjust... change my perspective. Because Christmas is not all about the day... it is about the reason for the joy of the day... and I want my children to know the true meaning of Christmas. I don't want to barrel straight through December, losing Jesus in the frenzy of preparation. I don't want to miss the joy... the moments of wonder... I might be ready for Christmas, with all of my lists checked off, but will my heart be ready?
And so we celebrate Advent...
really celebrate it.
We celebrate with candles, and stories, and traditions...
We invite Jesus to be a part of it all...
... and when He comes, we'll be ready.

One of our favorite resources for celebrating Advent:
The Adventure of Christmas
by Lisa Whelchel

November 28, 2008

you never know

It is not typical for us to end up at the mall on the day after Thanksgiving... but today, we did. We weren't in the crush of shopping, we were just there... to do a couple of errands, lend our advice on a couple of gift purchases. And there we were in the Build-a-Bear Workshop. It was festive and fun... just a gift card or two, and we'd be on our way.
And then Camden saw a penguin.
And I saw his eyes when he saw the penguin.
We had a ten dollar gift card left over from another year... and I have a couple of certificates at home... but Camden will be twelve in one month. My baby. Twelve. I wanted to say Let's come back and do it when I have those certificates. But you never know... teetering on the edge of teen-dom, he might not think it's cool next month, or next week. Today, he has the light in his eyes... today his joy at the prospect of a new furry friends is alive... today he still wants to be a little boy.
And when a Momma feels it slipping away faster than she can bear...
she says yes.

November 27, 2008


There are some things that just make Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving... things that really fill my heart with the celebration of the day. The people I love, of course... congo squares... and the Macy's parade. I suppose I should throw turkey in there, but, if I had all of those other things, the turkey part just doesn't matter. Predictable me... as long as I have my dessert (my melt-in-your-mouth chocolate & nut filled blondie brownies that I call congo squares) I don't need a meal. But I could even do without dessert if there was a parade. I suppose it must be part of nearly every one's tradition... to enjoy the parade that marches down Broadway and into Herald Square... but for me it is more than a tradition, I guess... it is part of me. I think because I've stood there, in the cold, shivering and waiting for the magic to begin... and seeing those magnificently huge balloons bounce along overhead is amazing. Seeing it on TV is pretty spectacular, but being there in person is truly special. I think I've been there four times... and every time I watch it on TV, I dream of going again... and my mind tries to work out how I can make it happen. It is more than just a parade... I certainly associate the whole thing with my New York experiences... traipsing along the busy streets... lining up to see the magic that is displayed within the department store windows... watching Cinderella in the movie theater and crying with my Mom... the fairy lights that glitter in Rockefeller Center... climbing the steps, one by one, for what seemed like hours, just to peek out the crown of Lady Liberty... and the Rockettes- for me, the Rockettes are just as big as the parade. And so, for me, Thanksgiving begins curled up and cuddled in blankets, waiting for the parade to start... and the moment they begin to announce it, the tears begin... I am thankful for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade... in person, or on TV. I am thankful for the parade, and the memories... and the people I share it with every year. It is the way I start out the day... and from there, it only gets better.

give thanks

Yes, today is the day we set aside to give thanks... but what about yesterday? and tomorrow? Last night during our Thanksgiving church service, our Pastor asked us to think about something we were truly thankful for. Immediately, my mind flipped through a thousand scenes. Sometimes I think I pray in pictures. That my words don't flow quickly enough to keep up with my thoughts... and so there the pictures flew... through my family, my home, my life. I am thankful at all times. Really. I know that without God, I am nothing... have nothing... can do nothing. I read this beautiful prayer this morning and thought- Yes, that is what I mean to say when I talk to You... those are the words my heart longs to put voice to.

Later, in the car,
Eric asked me Did you hear me? Did you hear what I said I was thankful for? I thought he was groaning about the length of the sermon... I did not hear him... I thought, for a moment that he wasn't going to share... and then he said Small green slush. I smiled... my heart melted. To someone who doesn't know our story, it might sound like a silly item to place on a list of thankfulness... but...
It is part of our history.
It is the beginning of our love story.
I, too, am thankful for a small green slush.

November 26, 2008

tonight there are tears

The phone rang just a while ago... and now there are tears. There are two children, 10 and 16 who are crying tonight, because their Mom has passed. She was not a woman I really knew... I had met her only twice... a Michigan relative of my Husband. Two summers ago she invited my children, who were across the street visiting, to play in the hayloft, run in her yard. Her kids, and my kids played for hours... She showed kindness to my kids... the way a Mom does when people visit. She walked with Cam & I around the yard a bit and we shared simple chatter. She was only 51... and she died from pneumonia. It seems a world away, and yet my heart aches here. Tonight there are tears... and children held just a little closer to hearts that love them...

still waters

There are words that I very distinctly remember learning when I was little... like echo... and reflection. I felt like I carried those definitions around with me as if they were prized possessions, not simply everyday occurrences. Oh, the sound of an echo was more than magic... and the joy and effort that sometimes went into creating one, made the echo incredibly amazing. And reflections... beautiful images floating on the surface of glass... or still waters. I do love when water lies like glass, stretching from shore to shore. I love the unrippled photographs laid out for us like a kaleidoscope. And I am reminded of Jesus calming the stormy sea. Only He could smooth out the water's surface and paint simple, breathtaking reflections. Even on a sunny day, there can be whitecaps in a lake... gray water rippling up and down, the images at the edge rough and indeterminable... I certainly have days like that. When my mind is churning and I don't know what should be next among the mess in my mind. And when I have relied on my own agenda, I once again fall back to hear Be still and know that I am God. Oh yes... be still... listen... let Him sort it all out for me. Be still... don't you remember what He has told you? Be still. And soon, the swirling had been laid flat calm... and the grasses and trees have reached out onto the glass lake and given us a most beautiful reflection to tuck away... crystal clear... without a rough edge in sight.
Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10

November 25, 2008

mixed blessings

Thanksgiving is a time to count our many blessings... when we look around, we often see more than we expected to see... we find that friends and family are closer to our hearts than we might have thought. This is one of our favorite Thanksgiving traditions... our Blessings Mix. We have made it for teachers, we have made it with scouts, we have made it just to enjoy at home. We have packaged it in brown paper lunch bags,
in jars and in Pilgrim Hats.
As it often comes to pass, the packaging of a blessing can be mysterious...
it is simply the blessing that counts.

Blessings Mix
Bugles: Shaped like a cornucopia or Horn of Plenty,
a symbol of our nation's abundance.
Pretzels: Arms folded in prayer, a freedom sought
by those who founded our country.

Candy Corn: The sacrifices of the Pilgrims' first winter. Food was so scarce that settlers survived on just a few kernels of corn a day.

Seeds: Promises of a future harvest, one we will reap only if seeds are planted and tended with diligence.
Dried Fruit: Harvest gifts from our bountiful land.

M&Ms: Memories of those who came before us to lead us
into a blessed future.
Chocolate Kisses: The love of family and friends
that sweeten our lives.
Count your blessings...
Blessings brighten when we count them. - Maltbie D. Babcock.

another morning adventure

I am loving these quiet, cold mornings that lead Cam & I out into nature... for a birding adventure. It is a time for just us to be together... just us to be silly together in the car, sip hot chocolate, and be in the midst of granduer. This morning brought us to Lover's Key... and the beach. While we didn't see many birds out on the beach, we loved the beach in winter. The colors so brilliant... the contrasts so sharp. We loved the wind and the waves... we loved the feeling of winter.

Thank you, God, for creating this beautiful morning, just for us... for making me feel close to my little beach town way up north. Thank you for this day... this time... this boy.

the time had come...

Eric had the day off, so I figured it was a good a day as any... to try to renew my driver's license. If you read this, you know... that I might have to take the driving test and the written test. That is why I don't want to go... and I certainly am not going alone! If I took the test and failed I'd have to walk home! Before we headed out, Eric checked online, and just to make me smile, he tried to see if we could just sneak by and renew it online...
no dice.
Off we go to the DMV
We went to this new one, pretty close to our house... and when we walked in it was empty. Yes, empty. Not a soul besides me trying to get a driver's license... and three desks open, plus a trainee. Great- I figured they would have to put the new girl through the paces and make sure she learned all the steps... alllll the steps, including administering the written exam! But, as she started talking my paperwork (I brought my license, social security card and my birth certificate, so they would understand how responsible I am!)I held my breath... because she wasn't even hinting at any kind of test! And then- the eye exam. I was nervous- not of the eye exam itself(my eyes are great!) but just of the process. In fact, I was so nervous I couldn't see line 5 as requested. After a couple tries at looking into the machine, the woman was kind enough to tell me, again, that You have to press your forehead on the machine- That's what turns it on. Ohhh... sorry! When she took my new picture, I figured I was home free, but I sure wasn't going to say a word until I had that golden ticket in my hand and could run out the door! At last... she presented me with my brandy-new beautiful driver's license. Yippee! I got it! And no test, much to Eric's disappointment. Before we left, I had to ask... I just had to find out. And so, I walked back over to the very kind lady who helped the new girl through all of the processing, and asked her Why did you send me that mean postcard that said I might have to take the written and road test? She pulled that post card out of the trash and re-read it- Oh, if you had a couple tickets I would've had you take the road signs again. And so that was that. I'm good for the next eight years, with a decent picture and all!

November 20, 2008

he takes it with him

My husband is a cop. He is the cop my friend says will change her image of all cops. He has not always been a cop... just a guy who loves any job that requires the adrenaline to flow throw his veins. When he leaves in the wee hours of the morning, I know he is off to do his job... not change the world. But somewhere along the way, I think he does anyway. He looks a little deeper into the man who is not able to care for himself... the teen who thinks he should leave this world... the woman who can't quite get it right. He will take pity on a teacher, late to start the day (my kids should have A's in Science & Geography!) He will take the extra time to talk with someone and find out the best place for that person to go, instead of just hauling him off to jail. He has a stash of small toys in the trunk, and will take the time to coax a smile from a scared child in a situation she doesn't deserve to be in. He is not the typical tough macho guy (sorry, honey!) but he is the guy you want to come across if you are in need of help. He is my guy... and he takes his heart to work with him.

November 19, 2008

when i can't speak

I suppose I think he can read my mind... I suppose I expect him to, after all these years together. And if not my mind... at least my body language. But why? I don't think I have the right to even think he can... even though, at times we read each others thoughts. Sometimes, it is hard to say the words I want to say. Sometimes it is hard to voice them out loud- lest they not sound the same on the outside as they did in my mind. I go over them again and again, hoping that I can tell my sorrows in soft, loving words, that will not offend, or be mistaken for anger. I am a people pleaser. I want everyone to be happy... pleased and content. But sometimes, you have to say what is on your mind... and deal with what comes next- when what you thought you meant wasn't quite what you thought you said, which certainly wasn't how you meant it. I am thankful that after the tears and misunderstandings, we can come back together with a hug... and pick up our love story right where we left off.

to kick off the season

It comes quickly, this season of holidays. I barely have time to turn around, and here they are... these wonderful crazy holidays. I love the traditions of these sweet days... the sentimental and the crazy... the variety of perfectly lovely celebrations that happen all around us. Last night we celebrated the first tradition of the holiday season- the Holiday Feast at Publix.
Have you never been?
Our little family has been going for years... we never miss it. Every couple of years or so, Eric manages to hit more than one store during the evening. While Eric was deployed several years ago, I introduced Suz to this festive event, and we now have our silly tradition.
And so what is this Holiday Feast all about? I suppose you could say that it is one big commercial for the Publix Thanksgiving Dinner, but really, it is so much more than that... it's Free Food Night. It is Oh, We Don't Have to Cook Dinner Night. It is... the Best Night to go to the Grocery Store... unless you were seriously thinking about shopping.
The employees dress up in their fanciest clothes... gowns for the women, suits for the men... there is music... entertainment... Santa & Mrs. Claus... there are elves... and most of all, there is free food. A buffet line serving up turkey, ham, stuffing and sweet potatoes. Bakery tray laden with sweets. Little ice cream cones filled with peppermint ice cream. Turtle pumpkin pie... egg nog... and the two most popular items? Shrimp cocktail, and wine. Yes, at Publix. This is the best grocery store- ever.
We strolled about the store... filled our plates...
and had three tiny glasses of wine.
Cheers! to the Season.

November 18, 2008

another trip

Tomorrow my parents will be on their way... to Africa. It is the first time they have repeated a trip... but I feel like it will be brand new. When they planned their last trip, they were going to see the wildlife. I remember the hope I held for them... that they would see everything they wanted to see... that it would be the trip they had hoped for. I actually received an e-mail from my Mom a few days into the trip, and when I read it and found that they had indeed seen plenty of animals, I could breath again. If they had seen great stuff that early in the trip, I could stop worrying about disappointment. When they arrived home, safe & sound, the recap of the trip surprised me... it wasn't about the animals as much... they had fallen in love.. with the people. The photos and the stories of these little ones... another world away... beautiful. The way these people are striving to retain their culture... and living for survival... it makes you think... about what you have, and what they wouldn't even hope to have. Tomorrow my parents will be on their way... to Africa... with their backpacks full of gifts... pencils, paper... computers. They will still see the animals... and love every sighting, I'm sure. But I think,this time, the highlight might come in a smile from a little one...
with hope in his eyes.

November 17, 2008

sunday night out

Sunday nights are for preparing for the week ahead... folding and ironing laundry... or at least what I think I might wear on Monday.
Sunday nights are for gathering up backpacks, lunch boxes and miscellaneous items scattered around the house.
Once in a while though, you have to skip it.
Our favorite bookstore just opened up at a new location... and tonight is the only night we could all go together. Monday morning might be tough, but sometimes you have to throw caution to the wind.
Books, books, and more books... lined up just so... with stories just waiting to be told. Interactive quizzes beeping and buzzing under Cam's fingers...
Laughter under her breath as she pages through an amusing book...
Moments that I cherish... knowing that we have raised two children who absolutely love the mystery and adventure that unfolds, page after page.

November 15, 2008

there is a friend...

I love to read... but, not anything too heavy... just a good, fun story. I typically can read about half a page before bed, but if I make time to read during the day, I find the day lost as I wander through the pages of someone elses heart. A light hearted novel will make me smile... a quirky, fun mystery will make me laugh out loud... and a good family story will inevitably send tears rolling down my cheeks. I just finished a beautiful novel... stunningly beautiful. A love story... a story of friendship. This novel grabbed my heart during the first few pages, and never let go. I cried... not just a few straggling tears, but tears that got caught in my throat and came out in sobs. When I had turned the last page, I clutched the book to my chest... and took a moment to find my breath. This was a beautiful novel... of friendship, finding yourself, and finding that a heart of stone can be turned to a heart of flesh. If you are poking around the library, looking for a good read... wander over to the fiction section under H. After Anne by Roxanne Henke.

November 14, 2008

until next year

The last football game of the season...
or, more importantly, the last marching band performance of the season.
After tonight, the stadium will be quiet on Friday Night.
Standing and watching as the band proudly marched into the stadium, I could feel tears start behind my eyes... this is it. Farewell marching season. There is much I will miss...
I will miss arriving early to reserve our seats, then sharing them with family and friends. I will miss the camaraderie of the people sitting nearby. I will miss the walking tacos, and the freedom I can give Cam as he treks back and forth from the concession stand to make a purchase, or simply say Hi to his Dad.
But most of all, I will miss the band.

I will miss their laughter and their songs in the stands as they cheer on their team. I will miss the heart stopping echo of Pride! as 212 students shout in unison and come to attention. I will miss Hip! Hip! Let it rip! and the high stepping that ensues. I will miss watching my daughter march & dance her heart out. I will miss these Friday Nights... but I will hold these memories close until the season comes around again.
You'll know where to find me...
and I'll save you a seat.

November 12, 2008

i've missed you...

So it has been over a week since I've written... I know... I've kind of missed me, too! What was I thinking to let my blog feel so lonely for so long?! Do you really want to know? This is what I was thinking... in no particular order...

... owww... my arm really hurts from that hour of wii tennis with my Mom.

... I can't believe this science project is due this week!

... I'm really glad Eric has been helping on the science project so I don't have to.

... This is the last week of marching band... sad.

... Happy Veteran's Day to my Hubby.

... Why is there school on Veteran's day?

... I have the house all to myself... kind of nice.

... Cam's first church retreat... wish I could be there to see his reactions.

... I think it's time to throw my flowers away... but they still smell good.

a day to remember

This morning, as Eric was was walking through the livingroom, Cam rushed around the corner and flung his arms around his Dad, and wished him a "Happy Veteran's Day." It really touched Eric's heart, I could tell. And it makes me happy to know that Cam knows how important his Dad's sacrifices have been. Serving your country is an honor... a blessing... a commitment. It is part of what makes our family who we are. It is what makes this country great. A soldier knows that the freedoms we enjoy are not free at all, but a soldier is willing to pay the price. Today is a day for remembering...

November 05, 2008

a heartfelt thank you

When my eyes popped open this morning, I had to turn on the TV to be sure it was official... our referendum passed... with an unheard of 79% of the vote! I am thrilled... and I am thankful... so thankful. I don't think anyone thought that our little group of six could actually accomplish this... but then our group began to grow, and with our wonderful volunteers, a very small bank account, and certainly no experience, we proved that a group of Moms, and a Dad, could rally a community and make a difference. A big difference.

I have learned more about myself in the past few months than I ever knew. I have overcome fears... I have had to put on my "big girl shoes" and just leap into a situation where I have been uncomfortable. And you know what? I have enjoyed it. Shy little 'ole me has enjoyed talking to people, starting conversations... I need to remember this... that it is never too late to learn more about who you are... or who you can be.

I have received quite a few congratulations phone calls and e-mails this morning... and the biggest bouquet of yellow flowers I have ever seen (thanks, Mom!) but I keep thinking about everyone who helped along the way...

If you voted for this referendum, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
If you forwarded my e-mail on to your friends, thank you.
If you passed out a flyer, thanks.
If you posted a sign in your yard, thanks.
If you wore a button, held a sign, or wore a bright yellow tee-shirt in the parade, thank you.
If you talked about the referendum while you were in line to vote, thank you.
If you held out hope, or if you sent a good thought our way, thank you.
If you prayed for me or encouraged me along the way, thanks.
I really needed it.

You made a difference. A difference that kids all over our county
will benefit from.
Today is a beautiful day.
Thank you.

November 03, 2008

the vote

I am not skilled to understand
What God has willed, what God has planned
I only know at His right hand
Stands one who is my Savior...

One of my very favorite songs begins with these lyrics. It speaks to my heart. It reminds me that tomorrow is a mystery... to us, but not to Him. It reminds me that I am not in control, nor should I be... it makes me happy... content to know I don't have to be. These words remind me that I serve a powerful God... and if I knew His plan, or understood it, it would make Him somehow less. I do not need to know now... I will know when the time is right.

I have cast my ballot... I have had my say. And now, I can do no more... just sit... and wait... and pray. I pray that the most Godly man wins this election. I pray that the most righteous man wins this election. I pray that our country wins... whoever wins. I had my say... it is God's turn.

November 01, 2008

morning splendor

He has been looking forward to this morning all week... his first outing with the Young Birders Club. We woke before dawn, dressed in layers, and headed out on our way, full of anticipation... with hot chocolate to sustain us.

The morning sun skittered about the leaves... the shrill sounds of the slough came alive... the twittering birds said good morning. In every direction, there was beauty. Who but You could fill our senses with such amazement...

...Falling in love with the Earth is one of life's great adventures.
- Steve van Matre

just to be

Yesterday, after doing everything a mother does all day... and doing the things that a Mother hasn't done for weeks... and then adding in a few other things like voting, and pumpkins, and Halloween... and trying to make it all fun and not yell at anyone, I was finally sitting... in the stands at the football game... early to save our seats. It was quiet... the breeze was rushing at me, and I was breathing it in... and it felt good... really good. My Mom leaned over to me, looked into my eyes, and simply said For the next three hours you don't have anything to do- just sit here. I put my arms around her, and she held me the way a Mom holds a daughter who needs a hug... and my eyes filled with tears... and I finally let just a few escape.