Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Christmas Card Tradition

Christmas cards have always been a big deal for me.  Ever since I was a little girl, I loved getting Christmas cards in the mail -- and sending them to my family & friends as well.  My Mother always stacked our cards in this Santa holder ...
I remember always looking to see how many cards came in the mail for us & who had sent them! One of my favorite things I did with my Mother as a child was to make Christmas baskets out of old Christmas cards.  My Mother was always so creative (and still is) ... and we would make some of these baskets to gift away to some ladies in our little community.  We filled them with candy canes and little special touches such as mints, handkerchiefs, bookmarks, etc.

Mother would write on the bottom of the basket the year we made them ... the one on the left is one that she made me in 1972 (American flags have always been my favorite!) ... and the little one on the right I actually made in 1974 when I was 10 years old.  And they've been kept all this time ... along with several others I have.  And I have a mountain of cards that I have saved over the years -- and now they will be used in crafting projects and quite possibly be re-gifted to someone who will find the pleasure in the simplicity of mine and my Mother's tradition from my childhood.  Sometimes it's the smallest of things that we remember and that we treasure for a lifetime.
You know, this was not the post that I had intended to write today.  My thoughts have been all over the board today as I have worked to clean out rooms and closets ... and to create Dan his music space so that he can have a special place to unwind after long work days.  But God has shown me something that I've been missing until just about 5 minutes ago (literally -- even as I wrote these words, I had no idea where this post would take me) ...
Dan & I have put our "downsizing" plans on hold until after tax season next year ... we will continue to get some much needed projects done & maintenance that has been put off for a while.  But we've taken the pressure off of having our house on the market by next spring.  And although I still have a bit of work in front of me with organizing, painting, clearing out, etc ... I simply do not need to complete any more house projects in the next 2 weeks that lead to Christmas. 
I simply need to slow down a little and just take life a moment at a time ...
and celebrate His coming as the little baby who gave us hope for life eternal.
And so, my friends, my simple prayer for you is this ...
may these next 2 weeks before Christmas find you looking in your hearts for Him ...
the little baby who is our Hope and our Peace and our Comfort ...
who is coming again to give us eternal life with Him.
As we treasure our Christmas traditions of the past
may we always find the Baby Jesus in our Christmas present
so that all the generations that follow us will seek Him in Christmas futures

Friday, December 5, 2014

Traditions of Christmas Past Meet Christmas Future

 This year marks the first year since 1985 that Dan & I have had the house pretty much to ourselves for a few days a week.  When our daughter was younger, we would have our family decorating party as we put up our Christmas trees and decorated for the season.  And yes, we are one of those who have artificial trees since we would always travel for family visits during Christmas breaks. 
So this year as semi-empty nesters, we looked forward to continuing our family tradition with our kids.   Here's a few pictures of our decorating this past weekend -- 'Joe wasn't able to get a weekend home-pass from the military post, but Jacqueline, Lucy & Tag were here to help us bring in the Christmas season ...
and so we decorated our Christmas tree with red, blue, yellow & green lights ...
glowing on limbs as keepsake ornaments were gently hung
{Lucy & Tag couldn't believe how "old" some of our ornaments are!} 
Dan had "requested" the needle-in-the-haystack this year ---
his multi-colored mini lights with multiple settings ... oh my! 
I hadn't shopped for multi-colored Christmas tree lights in the past ... hummmmmmmmm ... maybe 20 years!
Okay ... maybe I exaggerate a little ... maybe more like 17 years. 
So, anyway ... off I went -- Target, WalMart, Sam's, Home Depot, Garden Ridge ... no multi-colored, multiple setting Christmas tree lights! I was determined to find them for my husband ... normally in years past we would have our "main" tree in the family room
 {the 9 footer that served as the central decoration of Jacqueline's wedding Christmas Eve 2005}, 
and several trees throughout the house -- and only our "traditional" tree would have the multi-colored lights.  Well ... until the strand got so old that it basically became a fire-hazard.  And our main tree was retired after last Christmas with several areas of
light-outages.  So now Christmas decorating 2014 ...


These 2 little ones absolutely LOVE Grandad's chaser lights this year! And how they enjoyed picking the perfect spot for each ornament they placed on the tree.  They handled each keepsake with such delicate care ...
even Tag took gentle care with some of his Mommy's ornaments (such as the little swing he holds in the above picture). 
Lucy hung some of her Mommy's keepsakes and her grandparents' memories too.  Their little eyes lit up as bright as the strand of lights glowing on the tree.  They knew they held precious memories in their little hands ...
so they were ever-so gentle with our memory-making decorations ...
and I know they will pass these keepsakes to their future generations along with
family traditions & memories.
Yet there's something different about this Christmas season ...
we have Dan's chaser-multi-colored tree lights along with our memory ornaments ... 
from our first Christmas as husband & wife in 1984 --

and our daughter's first Christmas in 1986 --
and Lucy & Tag's first Christmas ornaments --

all of which bring our family to Christmas present --
So much more than ornaments ...
traditions of our family Christmas past
are handed down to our little Christmas futures
during each & every Christmas present ...

And now -- at this very moment ...

Granny needs to get ready for these little Christmas futures to arrive for the weekend ...

I'll post more pics & thoughts later ...

Hope your weekend will be as blessed as ours will this weekend!


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Everyday Giving Thanks

It seems like Thanksgiving becomes more overshadowed with each passing year.  I've seen some stores begin as early as summer with Halloween and Christmas decorations & advertisements.  No matter where a person goes or what channel they watch on television or what radio station they listen to ... there's still one day of the year that has been set aside as a day of thankfulness that gets overshadowed.
I have some priceless childhood memories of our family Thanksgivings.  My Granny always made sure there was turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, casseroles, rolls, cakes, pies ... and my Mother & Aunts would be up before the crack of dawn to make sure food was prepared for all of our family.  Long before microwaves or automatic dishwashers or various ovens ... just ordinary pots & pans along with "tin foil" to prepare our family feasts.  Aunts, uncles, cousins ... all of us at Granny's being thankful for our relationships & all that God had given us.
Our traditions have changed through the years.  My family & my sister's family will meet up at my parents' house for various holidays and gatherings.  My parents & sister live close by each other while Dan & I will drive about an hour & a half.  Not a long drive at all.  And this year will be bring yet another change in tradition.  Since our daughter & her family now live a couple of hours from us, they will be celebrating Thanksgiving in their new home on the military base.   And then they will be coming down to see everyone for the weekend when we will all go to my parents' house for another Thanksgiving celebration.
So ...
with the many changes in traditions and family ventures
with the mountainous pulls on our prioritizing "one holiday at a time"
with hearts longing for "peace on earth" earlier and earlier
... where does that leave "Thanksgiving"?
I am as guilty as anyone when I see people complaining about "rushing the seasons" ...
I get as caught up as some people for "early bird" Christmas shopping ...
I desire deep down just as other people who truly need one day of giving thanks ...
And then ...
O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy
endureth for ever.
Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
Let them that fear the Lord say, that his mercy endureth for ever.
Psalm 118
Rejoice evermore.
Pray without ceasing.
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Quench not the Spirit.
Despise not the prophesyings.
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
I Thessalonians 5: 16-21
How much more would I be thankful for all that God has given me if I simply gave Him thanks
every moment of
every day of
every year.
One of my favorite pictures hangs in our sunroom
as a reminder as we go out into the world
and as we come home to our corner ...
The world may be loud and our traditions undergo changes over time ...
but we just need to quieten our hearts for the whisper of God.
And each and every moment will become Thanksgiving
as we give thanks to Him who is always good.
May you & your family have a
blessed Thanksgiving
not only tomorrow ...
but everyday.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veteran's Day 2014

Today is the day we aside to honor our veterans -- past & present -- who have sacrificed for our country.  A few of my uncles have served our wonderful country in the military.

My Uncle Don served in the Navy along with his brothers in WWII ...
some of the most honorable men who served God first in everything they did. 
Men of God ... men of honor ... men of all men.  
When we were growing up, Uncle Don sure didn't want to talk about his time in the War because he did not want "upset" any of us kids.  Simply stated -- he didn't want to scare of us young children with any talk of war. 
A true man of valor.

And our son-in-law ... who gave his blood serving and protecting.
Two tours of duty overseas ... two years in between training troops ... serving for his military career.
And then the explosion that was intended by the enemy to end his life ...


On this Veteran's Day 2014 ...
we honor and remember those who have served our great country.
"Thank you" just does not seem enough for the price our freedoms have cost.


Saturday, November 8, 2014

At The End of a Long Week

At the end of a long week ...
we recognize The One who brought us through it
we praise Him for His goodness & His power
we know Who holds us in the palm of His hand
At the end of a long week ...
I am more aware of His amazing grace
I am more aware of the little things in life
I am more aware of blessings I have every moment of every day
At the end of a long week ...
he is drained from the events of the week
I am drained from the events of the week
we reflect on the events of the past week
At the end of a long week ...
my Mother had laser surgery on her "good" eye on Monday
my Daddy ended up in the emergency room early Tuesday morning {extreme vertigo}
I had a root canal on Wednesday
our cat Penelope had a routine vet check-up on Thursday
{while I rush-painted before picking her up}
Thursday ...
1:30pm the vet called & Penelope was doing great after her dental procedure
{I was planning on getting her at 4:30 after I painted}
3pm the vet called -- Penelope had died
... a mystery to the vet's office
... no reason as to "why"
... everyone is simply shocked
Friday they called and said they found Penelope's heart was enlarged 2 1/2 times the normal size.
Everyone still stunned ... first time this has happened at the vet ... everyone cries.
Saturday {this morning} Dan & I go to vet to get Penelope. Everyone still cries at the vet's office ... they simply loved Penelope ...
they give us hugs & endless "I'm sorry". 
We do love our vet's office.
So we come home and lay Penelope to rest close to her predecessors ... Midnight & Smokey were litter-mates ... Midnight lived close to 8 years and Smokey 13 years.  Penelope was our daughter's saving-grace after Smokey -- 'Joe was in his last few months of his first deployment & it was before their first wedding anniversary.
Penelope was a special cat ...
she was Lucy & Tag's first pet ... she was playful ... she was protective
and Granny & Grandad miss Penelope just as our daughter and grands miss Penelope. 
But, we believe that God takes care of His animals ...
and we know Penelope is in good Hands.
At the end of a long week ...
we thank Him for every breath
we praise Him for His goodness
we rest in Him
God is always good

Friday, October 31, 2014

... for the little warriors

It's official ~~~ TGK is an official charitable organization!!!

In case you've noticed my sidebar link to The General's Kids ...
This is our daughter's organization that gives back to our military kids serve our country alongside of their wounded parent.  Our own little warriors -- Lucy at age 3 and Tag at 11 days old -- had their lives turned upside in a split second from "the phone call" that their Daddy had been wounded in an explosion overseas.  Tag will never remember anything from that traumatic time, but sweet Lucy remembers everything.
 Some people say that she will forget certain things, but such a trauma to a young child's life leaves an everlasting mark ...
I know because I experienced such a trauma as well at about age 4 {I will fill in details in another post}. 
To this day, Lucy will say things like
"Nanny, do you remember Miss ___ from that time Daddy was at Walter Reed?"
"____ has 4 prosthetics because he was in an explosion too."
{Yes, at the tender age of 3 Lucy could explain how prosthetics work & help those who have no arms or legs function.}
Some "little warriors" live at military hospitals - medical centers - for the duration of their hero's treatment/recovery/rehabilitation period.  The General's Kids wants to help give our little heroes an encouragement and support system to let them know that THEY are our heroes too. They serve our country alongside their wounded hero and their whole family.
they sacrifice and they are dedicated ...
they serve and they are patriotic ...
they love our country and they support our American Flag ...

These little warriors are our nation's heroes.
Here's a little introductory excerpt from The General's Kids website ...

About Us
The General's Kids, L.L.C. was designed for our nation's little warriors. Whether they are infants or teenagers, facing the life-changing injury or illness of a parent leaves a lasting impression. There are so many wonderful organizations out there that benefit wounded warriors and their families, and children often benefit from these. But at The General's Kids we are proud to focus 100% on the children and young siblings of the wounded, ill, and injured. We can help connect children and teenagers of various ages with others across the country who are going through similar struggles, provide sponsors who will send encouraging cards or care packages, and will soon be able to offer financial assistance for things like special interests or school funding. Children living the Wounded Warrior life are faced with a harsh sense of reality. We intend to help bring back some of the things that help comfort and lighten these kids' hearts. Our goals are big and extend all the way up to wanting to fund Disney vacations and college scholarships. Our belief is that whether there are 10,000 wounded warrior kids or just one, each and every one is a priority and deserves to have their sacrifice for our freedom acknowledged. Learn more about how you can help...
So ...
this is basically "who we are" at The General's Kids.
We hope you visit our website ... and please remember our little warriors in your prayers.
Lucy & Tag are just 2 little warriors out of so many others. Our family is dedicated to helping other little warriors adjust to their wounded warrior life ... because we have been there and are still traveling this journey.  And this journey will continue throughout the lives of our own little warriors.  I'm sure it's Mrs. 'Joes desire as it is ours ... that our future generations will continue the work of The General's Kids to ensure that all little warriors know how important they are and how much they are cared for.
And to know that someone has walked their path before them.

May God bless you & your family
may God bless our wounded warrior families
and may God bless our little warriors

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Being Anxious {for nothing}

Philippians 4:6
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication,
with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 
{yes, I know the next 3 verses go along with this one but I will post on those later}

I've been focused on this verse for the past several days -- okay, probably more like weeks
It appears that Granny has been a little anxious over the past several weeks ...
from cleaning out closets, garage, cabinets ... to projects that are in need at our house ...
to schedules of 2 households with 'Joe's appointments and helping with the little ones when I can ...
and the list goes on. 

Continuing our driveway rock-wall project

The other day I told Dan that since I have a few days a week, I feel like I have to get our long list of chores & projects completed within a short time.  Feeling anxious --- overwhelmed --- ready to be done with the projects which lie in front of us.  So, as I primed our bedroom walls today, I started thinking about being
"anxious for nothing" ...
absolutely nothing ... not one thing at all ...

not the tasks that lie ahead
not the regrets of the past
not even the here & now

Like many others, Dan & I have goals and plans for the near future as well as the distant.  We know some things we would like to accomplish over the next year -- and we have a few things we would like to see come about in the next 10 years.  And yet --- before time even began --- 
God breathed the words "be anxious for nothing" ...

1st room for repainting -- our bedroom

It's good to set goals.
It's good to plan for the future.

It's imperative to turn our agendas over to God ...
to align our hearts' desires with our very own Creator ...
to pray His will to become our will.

The next few weeks are going to be very busy for our family ...
and each little step of progress we make will be prayed over &
given to The One who knows His plans for us.

And this Granny will continue to learn to

be anxious for nothing