Wednesday, December 31, 2008

One word for the new year

We had a sweet Christmas, full of fun and family, to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

ElizaJane loved her Marcy Monkey!

Kartwright showed us all how it's done with his "flow board", amazing!

Uncle Bill was here to share some laughs.

Uncle Kenneth, tried his feet on one of the boys Indo boards.

You can see all the Christmas loot in the background.

Here's Grandma Susan with the girls.

Spider man even made an appearance!

The boys had special "jammies" too!

Haven had a special delivery of an almost real baby.

Michael's father and his sis Deb and her husband Dave, were there also, to share Christmas dinner. I hate that I didn't get more pictures, but frankly I was in the kitchen most of the time. It was another Christmas to put into the memory books.

Today I was reading THIS, and thinking about THIS, and several other posts on picking a word for 2009 to inspire more purposeful living based on one word choice. I think it is an interesting concept, and caught site of it last year when I picked the word "encourage" for 2008.

We have had a year to remember, with much heartache, and change. The minutes slip away faster then I can even count, and they turn to days, which turn to weeks, that are then months. Months quickly revolve into years, and before you know it it will become a lifetime! Time swept away, never to be retrieved. Each of my living children are another year older now. Haven moves into double digits this year, Dakota will be an official adult at 21 soon, as just days later my baby will move eons passed toddler ville, and solidly into school age at 5, and Kartwright will be 17, just a slim 12 months from the large milestone number 18. I will never see them again at those younger ages, just as I will never see myself again at 43.

It is a bitter sweet reality that none of us can do anything to change, and why would we, as that is the way our sweet Lord has ordained it. What if, however, we could make those minutes, days, weeks, and months count for more this year, then they have in the past? What if by some planning, instead of just slipping away, we could live them perhaps more intentionally? what if?

That is my word for 2009, intentional. I want to live each moment with more intention, and thus each day, and in turn each week, and each month, and that in turn will produce a whole year of intentional living. By intentional living, I mean, something opposite of what my cyber mentor Nancy Leigh Demoss called drifting, which is our natural tendency, the tendency to just let life happen. My 2008 was full of "stuff" happening to me, that was out of my control. No amount of wishing, or trying, or believing, could have changed my circumstances. Life happens, career choices are made, families are up rooted, people take their own lives, precious children die, parents age, markets crash, and jobs are lost.....and in the midst of all that, God is in control, and he is not surprised by anything. Amongst all of that "life" there is the mundane happening of every moment, day, week and month, and there are choices to be made, and when we don't make a choice, then well, we make a choice don't we?

So for me, 2009 will be a year of intention. I don't know exactly how I will continue to cope with the losses that my family has endured this year, Crockett's life is missed, for me that reality looms over head in a way that makes everything else seam like frivolity, but I have confidence that my God will sustain me, as he always has. I don't know where we will be called to go next, or if we will even be called at all, but that does not arrest the need for us to keep on living, and doing, and serving, and blessing, and loving, and growing. And that is exactly what I intend to do, and I will do it intentionally. I plan to make intentional choices in the way I choose to spend my time, care for my family, contribute to my local church body, stimulate my mind, buffet my body, and love my husband.

My word for 2009 is INTENTIONAL.

What will your word be this year?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry CHRISTmas

The malls were packed, the streets were lit with colorful displays, vacations were scheduled, presents were sought, bought, wrapped, placed or sent, delivered, presented, and received. Cars were packed, carols were sung, choirs practised, and performed, Santas were visited, trees were cut, picked, lit, and decorated, cards were sent, cookies were baked, and stockings were hung. From Presidents to paupers, people celebrate the birth of Jesus, even if they don't know him. Some don't even know why it is significant that he was born, or know that it is a historical fact, as opposed to a fairy tale, but almost all celebrate.

Jesus, God's son humbled himself, by being born on this earth, for you. He didn't have to, he did it for you. He did it because he knew he had to be born, so he could die, and he did that for you too. He was born of a virgin, conceived by the Holy spirit, so he was a sinless man. He was the only one who had the ability to die in our place. The bible says, that the payment for sin is death, but that the gift God gives is eternal life. We have all sinned. We gossip, steal, lie, cheat, covet, hate.....we all do. That means we have to die, because that is our punishment, but wait.....Jesus came and did it for us. He died so we didn't have to!!! That's why we celebrate his birthday in such a big way, all over the world, because some people know the good news, and they celebrate the birth of a God child that was born to die, so that they could live. It is still true today. That is the reason we give gifts, to symbolize the free gift that God provides for us. That gift is eternal heard right, eternal life, living forever in a wonderful place. God sent his son, and Jesus willingly gave his life, He then rose again on the third day, which we all celebrate on Easter. He rose again, because death could not defeat him. He was the only one that could defeat death for us, so he did. The only thing we have to do to get the free gift, of salvation from death, so we can live forever, is accept it. Yep, just believe God gave it, and accept it. You have to know that you sinned, and if you know it, your sorry for it, and if you sinned, then your fate is death....unless, you accept God's free gift that is brought by that sweet Babe in the manger....the gift of eternal life! The greatest gift ever given, and still available to you today!

Won't you recieve it today?

"For God soooooo loved the world (that's you), that He gave, his only son. So that, whoever believes in Him, should not die, but have eternal life!!!"
The Bible,Gospel of John, chapter 3, verse 16

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My list is done!!!

Today I hit the floor drooping, cuz yesterday I hit the floor skipping, and now I am worn out! not really, actually the season has energized me, and my new personal assistant keeps me motivated!! LOOK, I finished the nightgowns!!!! yeah!!!

and the 12 days of Christmas ornaments we painted are up, yeah!!

The partridge is my personal favorite!

And, here I present to you, Molly and Marcy, the monkey sisters!!!
They were soooooo much fun to make,
and I am so excited to give them to the girls!!!!

Like those felted wool button shoes???

and a secret little heart on their bums.

I feel encouraged that all is done!!!! I hope to encourage my children to clean their rooms today. I know, I know, it's Christmas Eve, but it will be their Christmas present to me!!!!

Encourage someone today, and Merry CHRISTmas Eve!!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

I guess I hit the ground strolling!

So here is the of the two nightgowns is complete, hope to finish number two tomorrow....The monkeys are still hidden in their drawer...the painted ornaments are not hung, but the idea is forming, and will be implemented soon,...dinner is not planned, but we have made last minute plans to include 6 more family members, but that will be great....eye appointment is going to have to wait until after Christmas, (i don't really need to see anyway)...cookies are decorated!

Everyone helped!

Dakota helped by eating the broken ones! tee hee

The girls were very specific about how they wanted them frosted.

Not Martha Stewart, but it's OK because I can't really see, remember?

They are delicious though, I must say!

I didn't want my picture taken, cuz I looked horrible!! Just keepin it real folks!

tomorrow is another day, and I vow to plan Christmas dinner and shop for it (me or my personal assistant)....Finish the second nightgown.....hang the ornaments....find the stockings....and finish the Monkeys. Hey isn't that the same list I had yesterday??????

Off to bed, and again, it is already tomorrow.

I don't think I encouraged anyone today....How about you??

Monday, December 22, 2008

Hittin the floor runnin

Tomorrow these feet are going to hit the floor running! All these last minute Christmas thingies have to get done. There are the 12 days of Christmas ornaments that Haven and I painted together the other night (soooooo fun to have a crafty friend in my own daughter, who woulda known?), that need a home. There is no room on the tree for these cuties, so we were thinkin another banner of sorts. That needs to be figured out soon, or they will miss their time to shine, and then have to wait for next Christmas!

Then there are the Christmas nightgowns that I had planned to make for the girls! This one might have to be scratched of the list, in the interest of time! I really want to do it though. I started that tradition a while back, of new jammies for everyone, love it, but I may have to leave it.....sigh!

Then there are these two monkeys....names to be revealed with their faces. Only the hand sewing left, so there is still quite a bit of hope that they will come to fruition. I believe two little girls I know, will be very pleased to see them under the tree come Christmas morning. can't wait to finish them, they have been so fun to work on.
So there are a few of the things on my to-do list, not to mention the cookies that need to be baked, and decorated, Kartwright's costume for his play that I have barely started, planning Christmas dinner, and that eye appointment that I have been putting off for more then a year......I don't really know why that is on the list, I mean, I've waited this long right, why must it be done during the holiday rush???? Just cuz I CAN'T SEE, that's all!!!!
Gotta get to bed, Oh my, it's already tomorrow, and I haven't gone to bed yet!!!
My new personal assistant is actually waiting up for me! I think having him home, is better then eating, so we may forgo the job hunting for a while, I could get used to this, ut oh, I think I'm already used to it!!!!
Have a wonderful day, and remember to encourage someone!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Gingerbread goodness

Encouragement day 19
Yesterday was gingerbread house making day, and the girls were raring to go! Kartwright was sick, so while he dreamt sweet dreams of clear heads, and fever less non aching muscles, we went to work.
I assigned the girls "jobs" on the house this time, as I could easily see that Haven was feeling a bit possessive of the wee cookie home. it is very important to her that things be done "right", (I wonder where she gets that, must be from her father), and these are things that a fun loving carefree four year old like LizaJane doesn't worry her pretty little head about. Liza was assigned the gum drop walkway, which she very painstakingly did her very bestest on!

Haven was given the roof to do after I applied the icing....I mean, it was very important that it be done right....right??? It was fun to watch the girls work together, and I was encouraged to hear them encourage one another in a job well done.

What could be more perfect then a pink and purple bubble gum wreath hanging above the door???

We did this tree also. It was a last minute kit purchase.
It turned out okay, but wasn't nearly as fun to do together.

What do you think? This is a tradition we have been doing for about 4 years now. it gets more fun every year. The only hard part is trying to find a bare space to display it. Oh, and then there are the missing gum drops every day, that no one will confess to stealing.

Do you have a story of encouragement today?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lady Di, SSAA's, SPAA's, and resistance

Encouragement day 18
Diana Princess of Wales, our resident Welsh Corgi had some bad news recently......she has arthritis! Poor baby. We have noticed she has been a bit gimpy in the morning, and as the day wears on she transforms back to her ol' spry self. The vet prescribed some yummy chewy things twice a day, and Di is ecstatic about that! I suppose we are encouraged that it is not something worse.

I love to capture little spontaneous sibling affectionate acts such as this. ElizaJane has gotten very "into" using the computer lately, and often asks for the kids help with it. It has been fun to see the girls playing the same games on the computer, that the boys played years ago. ....have you noticed that Haven has that sweater on in every picture I post??? I must look into that?!?!

Here we are, she finally changed! Here's another one of those SSAA (spontaneous sibling affection acts). Kartwright was actually helping Haven sing some old Christmas carols....gotta love that!! I put all the Christmas books I could find from all our book stashes, on our coffee table, and we have all enjoyed reading them, and just looking at them together. Funny how such a seemingly simple thing can create so many SSAA's, and SPAA's (spontaneous parental affectionate acts). That is very encouraging!
I had two people wait on me, in two different stores today, that were unusually helpful, and pleasant. It is so easy to complain when people are rude, but today I was struck with how great they did their jobs. I plan to write letters to the two stores, reporting their great service, that should be encouraging! Because I have been on this encouragement kick, I think I have been a bit more conscious of being more friendly myself....eye contact, calling by name tag name, saying Merry Christmas, giving them a heartfelt thank you instead of the obligatory one, smiling more, asking them how they are and really meaning it....It is a good thing. I know so often I just buzz through my day, without a thought to the strangers around me. I really like this new awareness!
My friend Michele shared that she feels resistant to share the ways she has encouraged others because she feels like she is "tooting her own horn". I confess that I have felt some of that same resistance. I do think though that we can encourage one another by sharing, as it may spark some ideas in all of us reading. Most of my encouragement is done to and for my family, and I haven't shared that, because it is generally just basic being a good Mom stuff, that we all hopefully do without much prompting. Doing this exercise though, has made me aware of just how "self and family" focused I have become. I haven't done a whole lot of outward blatantly encouraging acts of service, because.....well, because lets face it, this season is a bit crazy, and there just aren't enough hours in the day. I have however become much more aware, and hopefully more thoughtful. Your stories would also encourage me, just to know someone is playing along!
What is your story of encouragement today?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Turkey in the window is you !

Funny story for you, just to encourage you to smile today!
On our way to church Sunday morning in our white Honda van complete with non matching white front bumper piece (nother story, nother day, not so funny...) we were minding our own business, balancing the hope of keeping our sanctification, with the trauma of car seats, drama queens, and a know the Sunday morning drill, when suddenly, both Haven and ElizaJane let out great gasps in almost perfectly unified surprise. Michael and I both questioned the excitement, while Kartwright went on unaffectedly reading the Sunday comics. "A turkey, a turkey" the girls exclaimed...."in front of that store back there."
Let me stop and explain just a sec. We live in a community that is supposedly replete with wild turkeys. I have never seen one inside our gates, but often they are near the highway close by. The kids have gotten used to spotting them, and it has become a joke with us. We often laugh, that many hunters talk about how hard it is to hunt turkey, because they are supposedly hard to sneak up on! Well, not around here. Sometimes they are so close to the road that one could have roast turkey quite often if one was to just bear off to the side a bit....I'm just sayin! Anyway, lest some of my international readers (all two of you...if there are us a shout out!) think this is normal in the states, to see wild turkeys in the side of the road, let me assure you ....not so much.
back to Sunday morning...Michael looked at me, I looked at him, and with those Wiley ways that only us women folk have, with just one glance, he new he was turning around. I wanted to see the turkey in front of the store. We were both thinking the same thing, and we were right. The turkey was challenging his own reflection in the store's glass door! His fan was completely plumed, or is it his plume was completely fanned....You know what I mean! He was really pretty, well, except for that big red hangy down thingy on his nose....what is that for??? Turkey people out there, Does that serve a purpose? I suppose I should do my research before I start writing shouldn't I? Any hoo, we pulled over to watch Tom (that's what we named him, original huh? you can always count on us for original names now, don't ya know?) and he proceeded to pace back and forth in front of the glass doors and windows, as if he was contemplating his next strategic move to abolish the intruder from his highway territory. Who knew turkeys were territorial. We made bets (not real bets, come on folks, we are nice christian people here, what are you thinkin?) on whether Tom would still be there when we came back by after church. I lost, he wasn't.
I tried to take a picture for ya, but just as I pushed the button, the camera battery died.....snappers! so you will have to be encouraged by this pretty palmetto, that I spotted at the mall. Isn't she the bomb? I love palmettos, and surrounded by her impatient lady's in waiting, makes her even more exquisite!
So remember Tom today, and smile as you contemplate this....
That person you are peering at, might be just as frightened as you are....
try to encourage them today!
What's your story of encouragement?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Encouragement game, day 15

My favorite Decoration

I know this isn't the best of pictures, but I wanted to show you my favorite Christmas decoration! It is a bit funky, and not exactly realistic, but I love it. Michael and I bought it maybe 5 years ago, on an anniversary trip to Charleston. That is kind of ironic in and of it self! I like it for the humbleness of the figures, and their ordinary features. I like to think that God used ordinary folks like this, to carry out the greatest story ever told. People of unimaginable faith and obedience, but ordinary in their stations, just the same! I also like this "creche", because of this...

also not a great picture, but hopefully you can see the empty manger, empty, except for a beautiful handmade quilt. I like that the manger is empty, because I have never understood why a mother would put any baby in a animal feeding trough, much less, the son of God. I know she did, because the bible says so, and also, the prophesy had to be fulfilled, that said she would, but I like to think, that he didn't stay there very long, but rested in his Mommas arms. Now we all know, that she wrapped him in swaddling clothes, whatever that is, but I like the symbolism that the quilt in this scene has. Mary was anxiously awaiting the birth of her son, preparing, nesting, loving him, even before he arrived. She was an ordinary girl really, in an extraordinary circumstance, with the unimaginable pleasure of welcoming her Savior, my Savior into the world! Her life is an encouragement to me, as I strive to infuse my Savior into my everyday ordinary existence, welcoming, an extraordinary baby into my Christmas Season.

What is your story of encouragement?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Many Thanks! Encouragement day 14

I want to thank everyone who commented over the last few days, regarding our recent news. In light of our current unemployed state, we continue to covet your prayers. Thank you for your encouragement, you are a gift, and I thank my Lord, upon every remembrance of you!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Encouragement day 11

Have you ever heard that expression, "I have good news and bad news, which would you like to hear first"? And since I can't hear your response, I will share the good news....It seems like it should be first.

The sale of the house is as final as it can be pre-closing. Everything is signed and delivered, and our closing date is January 15. We are very grateful that God saw fit to sell it, and his timing is perfect, as you will see in the bad news.

Michael has been let go, layed off, fired, there a nice way to say it? He is no longer employed! Their words were,"We just can't afford you anymore, but we will gladly give you our best of referrals". It was a tad shocking, a bit disconcerting, and at best disappointing. It will be fun to see what God has in store next on this roller coaster he calls life, and I will be right here to tell it all to you! He is so in control, and we are so thankful for his provision so far. We are also thankful for His timing, and confident that he has a plan. That is comforting, as we don't!

So, if you think of it, and you can find some time in this Holiday frenzy, send a prayer up for us. It would be very encouraging!

"Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap,and they have no storeroom or barn: and yet God feeds them: how much more valuable you are than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single cubit to his life's span? "

the words of Jesus, as recorded by Luke chapter 12 verse 24 - 25

Monday, December 8, 2008

Encouragement game days 6,7, and 8

Our weekend was full of Christmas festivities, as I am sure everyone else's was. It all started with a hunt for the perfect tree on Friday night! We didn't get as large as one as usual, but it was plenty big. ElizaJane pretty much went hog wild at the tree "farm". She turned into a silly striped monster that we all didn't really recognize. I was encouraged by the lack of people that really cared, and my own ability to let it go.
The stripy Christmas sisters shared a smile for Momma.

Kartwright didn't think any of the trees were tall enough this year. Perhaps that is because he is so much taller! I was encouraged by the tree farms emphasis on the reason for the season. It is so great when a business isn't afraid to proclaim the good news with their advertising!

Saturday Kartwright performed with the Charleston youth theatre at the Daniel Island Christmas Festival. They sang a few songs, and did a few dances. He's the tall one in the back with no hat....he refused...I couldn't blame him....

The festival was full of crafts, and games, raffles, and lots of different groups performing. The girls had their faces painted. They also took part in a free scoliosis screening, and were given a clean bill where that is concerned. That was encouraging!

ElizaJane jumped in the balls! I am always encouraged by my children's ability to just jump right pun intended! I guess it always surprises me as I have never been like that!

After all that, we went home and decorated the tree. We had a good mix of sizes this year, so all the branches were equally covered. I remember the years when the tree was very bottom heavy as the kids were all small. My job was always to take each ornament off when they turned back to get another, and move it up! All the ornaments bring back so many memories. The kids each have several "favorites".

Daddy finished it off with the star. For some reason ElizaJane thinks of Crockett when she sees a star. You can imagine how much we are talking about our Crockey at this time of year!

It was a big day, and the girls were tuckered out! Michael and I went and did some Christmas shopping, and Kartwright babysat. Thanks Kartwright, you are a constant encouragement to me

So what is your story of encouragement today?

Friday, December 5, 2008

Encouragement game day 5

I wrote a while back of an odyssey to make friends, when I signed myself up for a kind of class at the local scrap booking shop. You can read about it here. Let's just say I was less then successful, and then life happened, and making friends was no longer on the forefront of my mind.
Recently there was a call out in the home school group, of which I am a member, to anyone who would like to be a part of a sisters girls tea. I signed up with fear and trepidation, with the blessings of my two daughters, who would also like some friends by the way, and yesterday was the big day!
After a hurried morning of school, and laundry, and dogs with limps, and uncorrected trig problems, I slapped on my trusty berry berry Merle Norman lip potion once again, and we were off. A few minutes down the road Haven whispered quietly, "what if we are the only ones dressed up?", "I was thinkin' the very saaaaame thing" I replied with a grin. A few more miles, and she said with a smile, "Momma, your beautiful", "I was thinkin' the very saaaaame thing" I replied. Then I shared what was on my heart:
"About thirteen years ago" I began, "I was a much younger mom, with three small boys. I loved my boys more then anything, and I wouldn't have given them up for the world! But, If someone would have told me thirteen years ago that I would have two little girls someday, and we would be going to a tea party together, all dressed up, I wouldn't have believed them! I feel so blessed that God gave you to me!"
Haven went on to express how happy she was to have a sister, and we shared all manner of sweet girlie talk, and soon we arrived at the home of the tea.
Suddenly, it occurred to me as we opened the van doors, that I wasn't going to know a soul at this party! Perhaps I should have taken a few minutes to prepare myself??? There were introductions all around. The hostess liked the paper wreath I made for her, and everyone seemed warm and friendly. All was going well, Then the dreaded question came......Que in the shrieking with the knife jabbing the air....I hate the question.... I have avoided the question to no avail numerous times, and people mean no harm. The question, is this.......

How many kids do you have?

To say four would not be truthful, it would be denying the existence of a person in my life that has taught me the most. it would be denying the little body that I long to hold, and feed, and hear....and mother! I must answer five, there is no question, that that is the answer, my answer, but after my answer of five, always comes the second dreaded question, and that is ......

What are their ages?

Now, I have tried to just give their ages, and I suppose for us Crockett will always be 12, as that is what he was when he went to heaven, even though it was 13 years ago that he was born. If I include him in the ages, I invariably get a remark like, Oh, I have a 12 year old, we should get together, or, What grade is your 12 year old in, then I have to explain, and by then..... it seems a bit too late! If I say I have 5 children, and then I don't include him in the ages, there is always that one in the crowd, that says, "but you said five, and that was only four, what about the fifth?" Then I have to explain.... and again it seems too late. Here's the thing, it would be fine, if I could explain solidly, and without waiver, but the tears are always right there! Not the sobbing, or even real crying, just those insipid tears, right there on the surface, waiting to pop out at a moments notice! Oh how I miss my boy! No one here, in my new home town, other then just a few families at church, has ever met Crockett, as we moved here just 5 months before his home going. I want to scream how beautiful he was, how they missed out for not knowing him, how God changed me through him, and how special he was. I want to tell them about his soft hands, and his giggle, and the strong kick.... all the things, that only those who loved him knew, only those who loved him cared about. Instead, I quietly explain, with popping tears, and there is instantly a damper of mood, and an uncomfortable edge.
Anyhoo, I got through it, and the women there, were very gracious.
There was one friendly face after all, that I had met before, and we were able to share a tear or two later on the porch. She recently has endured the loss of two children to miscarriage, and the pain is fresh. I hope I was an encouragement to her. If you know someone who has lost a child, say a prayer for them, and write them a quick note of encouragement, it would mean so much!
I met some wonderful women today, and that was a definite encouragement, and my girls also met some fabulous little women. I was encouraged by my girls today, by their manners, and their friendliness, their kindness, and ability to jump right in and be a part. I hopefully encouraged them, by telling them so!

The tea was lovely, China, linens, candles, yummy finger foods, Christmas finery, teapots, all types of pretty dresses, and lots of new friends!

What is your story of encouragement today?