Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Slow and Steady

Didn't someone once say something like, "Slow and steady wins the race?" I have to admit . . . I'm not a fan of slow. At all. So when we left to go to Georgia for Thanksgiving, here's where we were:
When we returned home a week later, there was definitely some progress. At least we now had scaffolding in the living room. But other than that, all I can say is that it's been slow. Real slow.

But I had a moment yesterday when I realized it's just alright. The job is getting done. And, one day, it will be done. Finished. In the meantime, I'd already told my guy I'd really like him to be done by this weekend since Hannah Kate's birthday party is on Saturday. He told me yesterday that he planned to be finished on Thursday so I'd have Friday to clean everything up and get it all back in its place. Now . . . I'm generally an optomist. And that should've been a sweet sound to my ears. But, more than that, I'm a REALIST. And the reality of the situation is that I didn't really believe him. And . . . honestly . . . after today, I still don't. He didn't get quite as far as he needed to so now he's "behind." But that's okay.

Here we are today:

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Praise and Thanksgiving

Thou fairest, greatest, first of all objects,
my heart admires, adores, loves thee,
for my little vessel is as full as it can be,
and I would pour out all that fullness before thee
in ceaseless flow.
When I think upon and converse with thee
ten thousand delightful thoughts spring up,
ten thousand sources of pleasure are unsealed,
then thousand refreshing joys spread over my heart,
crowding into every moment of happiness.
I bless thee for the soul thou hast created,
for adorning it, sanctifying it,
though it is fixed in barren soil;
for the body thou hast given me,
for preserving its strength and vigour,
for providing senses to enjoy delights,
for the ease and freedom of my limbs,
for hands, eyes, ears that do thy bidding;
for thy royal bounty providing my daily support,
for a full table and overflowing cup,
for appetite, taste, sweetness,
for social joys of relatives and friends,
for ability to serve others,
for a heart that feels sorrows and necessities,
for a mind to care for my fellow-man,
for opportunities of spreading happiness around,
for loved ones in the joys of heaven,
for my own expectation of seeing thee clearly.
I love thee above the powers of language to express,
for what thou art to they creatures.
Increase my love, O my God, through time and eternity.
~The Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan prayers and devotions

This past week we celebrated Thanksgiving. Giving thanks. Our holiday was spent in Georgia with my family this year. We played, we laughed, we spent time with family, we fellowshiped with friends, we ate. And ate. But I had to ask myself this question: Am I really thankful? If so, am I living a life of thankfulness? Is thanksgiving just a holiday? Or a lifestyle?

Last Tuesday night we enjoyed the annual Thanksgiving meal at my parents' small, country church. During the past couple of years, they have begun a ministry to the homeless. They go often to Atlanta, an hour's drive. And they are involved in a homeless community ministry in a nearby, local town. One of the church members drove to Atlanta and picked up four of their homeless friends to come to church for the Thanksgiving meal. Afterwards, there was a time of singing, praise and testimony in the sanctuary. When the pastor asked for someone to share what they're thankful for, no one volunteered. But one of the homeless men did. And do you know what he said?

Through tears, he gave praise to God and talked about how blessed he is. BLESSED. Yall. He and his wife are HOMELESS. Without a home. He has no home, no roof over his head, no protection from the storm or the sweltering summertime heat, no warmth from the chill, no promise of a next meal. He said he has so much that people in other parts of the world, third world countries, don't even have. And he is blessed. He has "so much."

And then I started thinking about the MUCH I have been given . . . a new house (a nice, big house honestly), food in the pantry and in the refrigerator, health insurance for my family and I, a nice vehicle, toys that overflow my children's rooms, my husband's job that allows me the opportunity to be a stay-at-home mom, family, friends . . . and so much more that I haven't even named. And yet I thought of all the times I complain, all the times I'm ungrateful, all the times I've taken so much for granted. I even felt like nothing I could say, nothing I could give thanks for could compare to what my homeless friend had given thanks for . . . after all, do I really know what GIVING THANKS is?! So many times I don't act like it.

I even found myself on the way home that evening complaining yet again about how quickly the fireplace stone job was coming along, how frustrated I'd been the week before, how aggravated I was because I thought it should've already been finished. REALLY?!? I should've been giving thanks that I even have a house and a fireplace. I should've been giving thanks that we have been blessed with the financial means to lay stone. I should've been giving thanks.

Never again do I want to say . . . I should've been giving thanks. I should've been praising my God.

"And as He [Jesus] went, many spread their clothes on the road. Then as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: Blessed be the King wo comes in the name of the LORD! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!" And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, "Teacher, rebuke Your disciples." But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out." ~Luke 19:36-40

God created me. God loves me. God sent His only Son to die for me. God desires fellowship with me. God has blessed me. May the stones never have to cry out in my place!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Favorites

Favorite Pin - There was no time this week for pins of interest.

Favorite Activity - watching Hannah Kate's tap/ballet class

Favorite Meal - This week's meals were easy . . . either a bit pot of something or another or something pulled out of the freezer. I made red beans and rice one night, which really weren't all that great. But Pioneer Woman's Skillet Cornbread sure did hit the spot!

Favorite Quote - When Mason got off the bus this afternoon, he yelled at the top of his lungs, "Now we're going to Pop and Mimi's." And then he proceeded with the following monologue: "Mama, we should just move to Georgia. I wish we lived in Georgia. MawMaw and us . . . we should move to Georgia. Then we would all be together. Then it would just be so easy. That's what we need to do, Mom. Move to Georgia."

Favorite Verse - The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. ~Hebrews 1:3

And so this was another week that I just want to forget about. We are four days into the fireplace project. We've made progress. Just not very much. It just doesn't seem like four days worth. Here's where we were on Tuesday afternoon. And here's where we are this evening.Just keep in mind we have to go 20-feet high. As for me, I'm trying to forget.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Our Little Ballerina

This week was Observation Week at Miss Machita's. That means we finally got to sit in on one of Hannah Kate's ballet/tap lessons. It was the cutest thing ever! I can't wait for the recital.

The warm-ups were so much fun to watch.
And then Miss Machita reviewed with them several different movements and ballet technique.Hannah Kate always talks about dancing with the scarfs . . . they flit around like butterflies, pretend it's a baby, wear it as a veil.There are 10 little girls in Hannah Kate's class. Here are a few of them waiting their turn to dance across the floor.Miss Machita is reminding Hannah Kate to keep her arms straight.And then it was time for the tap lesson, which means we had to change shoes. MawMaw and Abbie came to watch, too, and Abbie helped Hannah Kate don her tap shoes.
I videoed the dances and routines, too, but I haven't had time yet to figure out how to upload them. So stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

86 million shoeboxes

We packed our shoeboxes . . . have you?

Operation Christmas Child is one of my most favorite holiday missions project. I believe so strongly in the Samaritan's Purse organization and the ministry they do here in our own country, as well as around the world. I wish I could remember the first year I packed a shoebox . . . 18 years and 86 million shoeboxes later, children in 130 nations around the world continue to receive a simple shoebox packed with gifts the likes of which they've never seen before. But the best part is that each box is delivered with love and the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ.

Mason and Hannah Kate love shopping for their shoeboxes. It's something that they remember and talk about throughout the year. Last year our boxes went to Madagascar and Benin. I can't wait to find out where they go to this year!

My dream is to one day hand-deliver our boxes myself.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." ~1 Peter 1:3

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Fireplace: Day 2

Yall. Oh. My. Goodness. It's day two of the great fireplace stonework, and I can honestly say I am about to pull my hair out. Let's just say it's a slow process. Very slow. S. L. O. W. It wouldn't bother me so much if I could just go away and not come back until it's finished. It's just . . . inconvenient . . . having "workers" in your house. Or at least it is to me. But I just have to remember that it will be worth it when it's finished. And it will be finished. One day. Far away.

So after two (yes, TWO) days, here's our progress thus far:

Oh, and did I mention it's been only two days? Well, it seems like an eternity. The good news . . . or maybe the bad news . . . is that my guy isn't working tomorrow. He'll be back on Thursday. Will yall pray with me that maybe, just maybe, he can speed up the process a bit? I know it might seem trivial or insignificant or unimportant. But I know that the things that concern His children concern the Heavenly Father. And He wants us to come to Him with ALL things, even fireplaces.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Favorites

I have to be honest. There were very few favorites this week. It was just . . . rough. I don't even want a do-over. I'm just glad it's over!

Favorite Pin - The only thing I pinned this week was a printable pack from etsy for Hannah Kate's birthday party.

Favorite Activity - Decorating our Christmas trees was a lot of fun this week! Yes, I know it's early. But when we come back home after our trip to Georgia for Thanksgiving, everything is already done! Besides, I'll have my hands full planning for Hannah Kate's birthday party. And shopping with Mason and Hannah Kate for our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes was a lot of fun, too!

Favorite Meal - We had breakfast for supper one night. I made a Hashbrown Breakfast Casserole and Gouda Cheese Grits. Yum!

Favorite Quote - There isn't one particular thing that stands out this week. Instead, there are conversations. And sometimes even silence.

When we were shopping for our shoeboxes, Mason asked if we could put the Cars 2 DVD in his box. I explained to him that the boy who was going to get his box wouldn't have a DVD player or even a television so he wouldn't be able to watch a DVD. Several minutes passed before Mason said anything else. I know he was thinking about what I said, trying to understand it, trying to comprehend it. We have SO MUCH . . . it's just unfathomable that there are so many with SO LITTLE, even NOTHING.

Since this is the month of Thanksgiving, I ask Mason and Hannah Kate to each tell me one thing they are thankful for every night after we read our Bible story. The first night, Mason said he was thankful for God, and Hannah Kate said she was thankful for Jesus. Now aren't those just the perfect, "churchy" answers you'd love to hear from your 6-year-old and 3-year-old?!? It reminded me of when I was a girl . . . every year Grandmother would have a birthday cake for Jesus at our family gathering on Christmas Eve. And every year we'd light three candles on that cake. And every year she would ask each grandchild, all eight of us, what we were going to give Jesus for His birthday. I don't really remember what the answers were. But I do remember the year I said, "My heart." Well. Didn't that just thrill their hearts? And the adults oohed and aahed and smiled. And then every year after that, I think all eight of us responded with "my heart" when asked the question. I can remember one in particular, maybe two (not naming any names . . . Jennifer and Denise) who would just roll their eyes at me everytime it came my turn. The next night when I asked Mason and Hannah Kate what they were thankful for, they responded with the same thing. But I told them that they had to say something different each night and that they couldn't say what had already been said. So the past few nights have been a lot of fun.

With all of the talk about Christmas and the decorations coming down from the attic, Mason and Hannah Kate are all about it now. As a matter of fact, the other night Mason said he was thankful for Christmas. I asked him why he was thankful for Christmas, and unfortunately I got a little too puffed up, if you know what I mean. I was expecting him to respond with, "because it's Jesus' birthday." But he didn't. Instead, he was honest. He said, "cause I get presents." So I gently reminded him that even though we do get presents at Christmas, and getting presents is fun, Christmas is really about Jesus' birthday. And that's why we should be thankful for Christmas. So he thought for a minute. And do you know what he then asked me? "Well, Mama, why do you have the Christmas tree then?" Ah yes, the honesty of a child. We've had lots of teachable moments this week . . . not only for children but for mother, too.

Favorite Verse - So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taght, and overflowing with thankfulness. ~Colossians 2:6-7

So as much as I'm really glad to have this week behind me, I'm just not looking forward to next week. We have one major project left in the house that we never finished . . . laying the stone on the fireplace. I have a stone layer coming on Monday morning to start the job. It'll probably take three weeks or so. And I'm just not looking forward to it. Well, let me put it another way. I'm not looking forward to the process. But I can not wait until it's DONE.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like . . .

Oh, yes I did!When a friend called last week and asked what I was doing, I'm fairly certain she didn't expect me to tell her I was putting my Christmas tree up! It isn't decorated yet, but it will be soon. Since we're going to Georgia for Thanksgiving this year and then celebrating Hannah Kate's birthday the following weekend when we get back, I decided to get a head start on putting my Christmas decorations out.

Hannah Kate decorated her pink tree today.Mason's tree is up, but it isn't decorated yet.

I even baked tonight's supper in one of my Christmas bakers!The wreaths will go up this weekend. And I'm attempting to fashion a pretty garland for the stair rail. But we'll see how that turns out. One of the things I'm most excited about though is the tree in the music room.

Don't worry. I have a lot of work to do. But it just might be my favorite when it's done. It's inspired by something I saw last year when we went to San Antonio and took a day trip to the quaint German town of Fredericksburg.

Even though we were living in our house during Christmas time last year, we spent the holiday in Georgia. So this year it seems like it's really our first Christmas in our "new" house. And we are so excited!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Friday Favorites

Today is my FAVORITE NEICE's birthday! Happy 9th birthday, Abbie!
We celebrated with Abbie last Sunday afternoon at the ice skating rink in Baton Rouge. I had no idea there was even such a place until Abbie's party.

I was so proud of Mason! He did such a great job! He took a lot of spills and had several bruises on his booty and a blister the size of a quarter on the inside of his foot, but he's already asking to go back again. When he fell, he popped right back up and kept on going. After an hour or so, he was actually skating around quite well and didn't have to hold on anymore.
And Hannah Kate put skates on about five minutes before we left.
Favorite Pin - My absolute favorite pin this week is a genious idea for all of those precious photo Christmas cards we receive. I save all of them year-after-year, but they are all stored away in a box or albums. You can believe I'll be doing this:
Punch a few holes in the cards and bind them together with some rings or perhaps ribbon. Then display them throughout the holiday season on your coffee table.

Favorite Activity - This week was full of really fun stuff, like Abbie's birthday party and the hayride. Today I went with Mason's class on a field trip to a pumpkin patch. It wasn't just a pumpkin patch though . . . petting farm, face painting, huge trampoline, zipline, big slide, nature trail and tons of other activities.

Favorite Meal - Smokey Blue Cheese Chicken Salad Pitas with homemade sweet potato chips. Super simple but really good. Even Seth liked it! He said, "This sure is some fancy food." Really? Pita sandwiches? Fancy?

Favorite Quote - God is AWESOME! This week we talked a lot about God's creation and how strong He is. Finally, at a loss for words and wanting to say something, this is how Mason described our God.

Favorite Verse - I have to admit . . . this is hard. There were SO MANY verses this week that the Lord spoke into my soul that brought encouragement and peace and even conviction. But this is where it all started: I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. ~Galatians 2:20