Friday, December 31

A Decade of Memories

  
Not only is this the end of the year, but also the end of the decade.  Here’s a brief re-hash of interesting events...

2000
Bush v. Gore
Reality TV
Elián Gonzalez
RIP Charles Schultz and Tom Landry


2001
9/11
The iPod
Enron
RIP Dale Earnhardt
2002
American Idol premiere
The Beltway Snipers
RIP Dave Thomas , Julia Child, and  Christopher Reeve
2003
Iraq invasion
Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrates
The Terminator is elected governor of CA
RIP Johnny and June Cash 
2004
Facebook is founded
THE Tsunami
Janet Jackson at the SuperBowl
The Passion of the Christ
RIP Ronald Reagan, Julia Child, and Christopher Reeve

2005
Hurricane Katrina
Lance Armstrong wins 7th Tours de France
YouTube is founded
RIP Pope John Paul II and Johnny Carson

2006
Saddam Hussein is sentenced to death
Nintendo releases the Wii
Google purchases YouTube
Pluto is no longer considered a planet
RIP Don Knotts
2007
Virginia Tech killing spree
The iPhone
RIP Ruth Bell Graham
2008
Petroleum hits $100/barrel for 1st time
Michael Phelps earns 8 gold medals
Barack Obama
Hollywood writers’ strike
RIP Heath Ledger

2009
Swine Flu
Tiger Woods
RIP Michael Jackson

2010
Haiti
The oil spill
The Chilean miners
Tiger Woods
RIP Gary Coleman



Tuesday, December 28

COOL YULE - Day 6

DAY 6 - TIMES SQUARE NEW YEAR'S EVE BALL

Using "ball dropping" to signal the passage of time dates back long before New Year's Eve was ever celebrated in Times Square. The first "time-ball" was installed on top of England's Royal Observatory at Greenwich in 1833. This ball would drop at one o'clock every afternoon, allowing the captains of nearby ships to precisely set their chronometers (a vital navigational instrument).
New Year's Eve has been celebrated in Times Square as early as 1904, but in 1907, the New Year's Eve Ball made its first descent from the flagpole atop One Times Square.  The first ball was made of iron and wood, was adorned with one hundred 25-watt light bulbs, was 5 feet in diameter and weighed 700 pounds. It was built by a young immigrant metalworker named Jacob Starr, and for most of the twentieth century the company he founded, sign maker Artkraft Strauss, was responsible for lowering the ball.

DESIGNS

  • In 1920, a 400 pound ball made entirely of wrought iron replaced the original. 
  • In 1955, the iron ball was replaced with an aluminum ball weighing a mere 200 pounds.
  • In the 1980's,  red light bulbs and the addition of a green stem converted the Ball into an apple for the "I Love New York" marketing campaign from 1981 until 1988. After seven years, the traditional glowing white Ball with white light bulbs and without the green stem returned to brightly light the sky above Times Square. 
  • In 1995, the Ball was upgraded with aluminum skin, rhinestones, strobes, and computer controls, but the aluminum ball was lowered for the last time in 1998.
  • For Times Square 2000, the millennium celebration at the Crossroads of the World, the New Year's Eve Ball was completely redesigned by Waterford Crystal. The new crystal Ball combined the latest in technology with the most traditional of materials, reminding us of our past as we gazed into the future and the beginning of a new millennium. It was six feet in diameter and weighed approximately 1,070 pounds. It was covered with a total of 504 Waterford crystal triangles that varied in size and ranged in length from 4.75 inches to 5.75 inches per side.
  • In 2008, the co-organizers of New Year’s Eve in Times Square unveiled a new Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball at a press conference.  The Ball is 12 feet in diameter and weighs 11,875 pounds. For 2011, Waterford Crystal has designed 288 new “Let There Be Love” crystal triangles featuring a romantic pattern that blends a modern cascade of hearts with diamond cutting.  288 triangles are emblazoned with last year's "Let There Be Courage" design of a ribbon medal defining the triumph of courage over adversity; and 1,152 triangles sparkle with the "Let There Be Joy" design of an angel with arms uplifted welcoming the New Year.  The remaining 960 triangles are the original "Let There Be Light" design of a stylized radiating sunburst.  The 2,688 crystal triangles are bolted to 672 LED modules which are attached to the aluminum frame of the Ball.  The Ball is illuminated by 32,256 Philips Luxeon Rebel LEDs (light emitting diodes).  Each LED module contains 48 Philips LEDs - 12 red, 12 blue, 12 green, and 12 white for a total of 8,064 of each color.  By mixing these four colors, the Ball is capable of creating a palette of more than 16 million vibrant colors and billions of patterns producing a spectacular kaleidoscope effect atop One Times Square.

COOL YULE - Day 5

DAY 5 - AULD LANG SYNE

Auld Lang Syne (The Good Old Days) is the song traditionally sung at midnight to ring in the New Year with happiness and hope for a bright and prosperous year. The tune is a traditional folk song, and Robert Burns, a Scottish man, wrote the poem/lyrics in 1788. Here is the song's lyrics in full:

Auld Lang Syne
 byRobert Burns


Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne
We twa hae run aboot the braes
And pou'd the gowans fine;
we've wander'd mony a weary foot
Sin' auld lang syne
We two hae paidled i' the burn,
Frae mornin' sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd
Sin' auld lang syne
And here's a hand, my trusty friend,
And gie's a hand o' thine;
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear,
For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet
For auld lang syne


Tuesday, December 21

Christmas Ramblings

I’m feeling overwhelmed with Christmas spirit these days, and I feel like if I don’t tell you about it, I’m gonna bust. So prepare yourselves…

Finally, can I just say that I LOVE-LOVE-LOVE the song Joseph’s Lullaby? I almost don’t want to sing along when I hear it because I don’t want to risk ruining it… but I can’t help myself. Here it is so you can enjoy it as you are reading the rest of my rambles:



Last night, Bruce and I celebrated Christmas with our friend Scarlett. She made us macaroni and cheese with applesauce (which IS delish when eaten together!), we opened presents, went to red mango for dessert (new fave flavor: amaretto), and then we drove around Greensboro listening to MercyMe’s Christmas album looking at Christmas lights.

I am LOVING the lighted Christmas balls that are quickly replacing those lame lighted icicles of the past few years. Last night, we found NEIGHBORHOODS that were full of them, and it was magical. Disclaimer: If a house has fewer than say 6 of them, they look pretty silly. But when they’re done right – they are beautiful. Here’s a link about one of the neighborhoods we drove through and how they are using their light display to do good in the community (and instructions to make your own!).
I miss my mom. Christmas is the time of year that I find myself thinking about her the most. She loved Christmas. I bet her heavenly mansion is looking A-MAZ-ING these days!

A few days ago, Jon Acuff blogged his "40 before 40” list – basically, it’s the list of 40 things he wants to accomplish before he turns 40. I like that concept – sort of gives a definite timeline and end goal. So I think instead of New Year’s resolutions, I am going to work on my 40B440. Maybe I’ll post it. We’ll see.
I think I am going to attempt a few food gifts this year – I’ve been wanting to make some peppermint bark, and, oddly, I somehow have all the ingredients required already in my pantry (except for the candy canes). Perhaps tonight… I also saw a recipe for honey cinnamon butter. It looks so good, but is it weird to give someone a jar of butter?  Hmmm.....

This doesn't really have anything to do with Christmas, but more the new year: I signed up for The Sketchbook Challenge.  I need to get better about sketching ideas and such.  And it's something I've been wanting to do.  So why not now?  Depending on how good my sketches are, I might even share some photos...    

Phew!  That's it for now, but I'm sure there will be more festiveness to come….

Thursday, December 16

COOL YULE - Day 4

Day 4 - RUDOLPH


You know Dasher and Dancer
And Prancer and Vixen,
Comet and Cupid

And Donner and Blitzen.
But do you recall

The most famous reindeer
of all?

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is probably the most famous reindeer, though he was not actually a member of Santa's original team.  In 1939, a copywriter by the name of Robert L. May created Rudolph in 1939 as an assignment for his employer, the department store Montgomery Ward. Each year, Montgomery Ward would buy and give away coloring books to kids each Christmas, and they decided to create their own book in an effort to save money.

Drawing on his own personal childhood experiences of being taunted for his small, slight stature and tendency toward shyness, May wrote a poetry version of the tale about a misfit reindeer who is ostracized by the rest because of his physical abnormality...a glowing red nose. In search of an alliterative name for his misfit, May considered and rejected "Rollo" (he thought it was too cheerful and carefree) and "Reginald" (he thought is sounded too British) before finally deciding on "Rudolph."  In its first year of publication, 2.4 million copies of Rudolph's story were distributed by Montgomery Ward, and it is still selling copies.

May's radior producer brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, decided to adapt the story of Rudolph into a song. It was first sung commercially by Harry Brannon on New York city radio in the latter part of 1948 before Gene Autry recorded it formally in 1949, and has since filtered into the popular consciousness.  Autry's version of the song also holds the distinction of being the only number one hit to fall completely off the chart after hitting #1 the week of Christmas 1949. Nonetheless, it sold 2.5 million copies the first year, eventually selling a total of 25 million, and it remained the second best-selling record of all time until the 1980s.

Although most of know Rudolph's story through the song, May's poem differs in many ways.  The original Rudolph was not one of Santa's reindeers, nor was he the offspring of any of Santa's reindeer. Rudolph did not dwell at the North Pole - he actually lived in an "ordinary" reindeer village. Although he was taunted for his shiny, red nose, his parents were not embarrassed of him and he had a good self-image.

More importantly, the original Rudolph did NOT rise to fame when Santa singled him out from the rest of the reindeer herd because of his shiny, red nose. Rudolph was discovered accidentally when Santa was delivering gifts to Rudolph's house and noticed his glowing nose.  Concerned that thickening fog would keep him from completing his Christmas Eve deliveries, Santa called upon Rudolph to lead the team of reindeer, observing upon their safe return.


Info gathered from:
www.wikipedia.com
www.google.com
www.life123.com

Wednesday, December 15

Letter From Jesus

My sister Merry sent me this, and it was too good not to share...

My precious children,

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season. How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Now, having said that let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15: 1 - 8.

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth, here is my wish list. Choose something from it:
  1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.
  2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.
  3. Instead of writing the President complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up... It will be nice hearing from you again.
  4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.
  5. Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.
  6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless?  Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.
  7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn't make so much money on that day they'd close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families.
  8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary-- especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name.
  9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.
  10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to  Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.
Don't forget - I am God's Son and can take care of Myself. Just love Me, and do what I have told you to do. I'll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court. Have a wonderful Christmas, and remember…I LOVE YOU.

Jesus

Tuesday, December 14

COOL YULE - Day 3

DAY 2 - SANTA CLAUS

The true Saint Nicholas was born in 280 AD, in Patara, a city of Lycia, in Asia Minor. He was a Christian priest, as well as a rich person, and traveled the country helping people, giving gifts of money and other presents at night. St. Nicholas did not like to be seen when he gave away presents, so the children of the day were told to go to sleep quickly or he would not come! Nothing has changed and Santa Claus will not arrive this Christmas unless the children go to sleep early.

By 450, churches in Asia Minor and Greece were being named in honor of him. By 800, he was officially recognized as a saint by the Eastern Catholic Church.

In the 1200s, December sixth began to be celebrated as Bishop Nicholas Day in France.

By the end of the 1400s, St. Nicholas was the third most beloved religious figure, after Jesus and Mary. There were more than 2000 chapels and monasteries named after him (CRAZY! I never knew that!). In the 1500’s people in England stopped worshipping St. Nicholas and favored his identity as gift-giving Father Christmas. Over the centuries, St. Nicholas' popularity grew, and many people in Europe made up new stories that showed his concern for children.

The name Santa Claus was derived from the Dutch “Sinterklaas” pronunciation of St. Nicholas. Early Dutch settlers in New York (once called New Amsterdam) brought their traditions of St. Nicholas. As children from other countries tried to pronounce Sinterklaas, this soon became “Santa Klaas,” which then evolved into “Santa Claus.” The old bishop's robe was soon replaced with his red suit and clothing seen in other modern images. Nowadays, Santa Claus is generally depicted as a plump, jolly, white-bearded man wearing a red coat with white collar and cuffs, white-cuffed red trousers, and black leather belt and boots. This image became popular in the US during the 19th century due to the significant influence of caricaturist Thomas Nast, and it has been maintained with the help of the media.

We all know that supposedly Santa Claus lives in the far north, in a land of perpetual snow. The American version of Santa Claus says that he lives at his house on the North Pole, with his wife, a countless number of magical elves, and eight or nine flying reindeer. Another legend, popularized in the song Santa Claus Is Coming to Town, says that he makes a list of children throughout the world, categorizing them as either "naughty" or "nice." On Christmas Eve, he travels the world in a reindeer-pulled sleigh, delivering presents to all the good children and coal to the naughty children.

ON A PERSONAL NOTE: I actually collect Santas. I don’t believe in him, at least not anymore, though I do like to imagine a world full of Santa-like whimsy and love and good will and generosity. And don’t get me started on chocolate Santas! (wink!) I like to look at Santas and remember what I felt and thought and believed about him when I was a kid, to feel that giggly-bubbly joy in my heart and to think that one person could make people all over the world forget their problems and feel at peace, and to believe that he could give gifts that would bring happiness to all mankind.

And then I remember that I do believe in that Person. JOY TO THE WORLD!

Info gathered from:
www.thehistoryofchristmas.com
www.wikipedia.com

Monday, December 13

COOL YULE - Day 2

DAY 2 - O, CHRISTMAS TREE

As with many customs, the Christmas Tree began as a pagan ritual, to celebrate the winter solstice, as a symbol of life's victory over death.   

But then in the mid 1500's, Germans began using evergreen trees as a symbol of hope for the coming of spring. This practice is likely to have gradually evolved from pagan rituals of past, and merged with the celebration of Christmas leading to the tree's Christian beginnings.  In the mid 16th century, Christmas markets were set up in German towns, to provide everything from gifts, food and more practical things such as a knife grinder to sharpen the knife to carve the Christmas Goose! At these fairs, bakers often made shaped gingerbreads and wax ornaments for people to buy as souvenirs of the fair, and take home to hang on their Christmas Trees.

TINSEL was invented in Germany around 1610. At that time real silver was used, and machines were invented which pulled the silver out into the wafer thin strips for tinsel. Silver was durable, but tarnished quickly, especially with candlelight. Attempts were made to use a mixture of lead and tin, but this was heavy and tended to break under its own weight so was not so practical. So silver was used for tinsel right up to the mid-20th century.

ORNAMENTS were usually handmade - made of paper or wire.  Ladies often quilled snowflakes or stars.  Candles served as lights.  By the 1870's, glass ornaments were beginning to appear and served as a status symbol.  The more glass ornaments you had, the better your status!

Christmas trees arrived in America in the 1800's.  In 1851, Mark Carr opened the first Christmas tree retail lot.  Traditionally, Christmas trees were not brought in and decorated until Christmas Eve, and then they were removed the day after "twelfth night" (January 6).  To have a tree up before or after these dates was even considered bad luck.  Of course nowadays, most folks put up their trees shortly after Thanksgiving and leave it up until after New Year's Day.

LIGHTS were added to Christmas trees around 1882, when Edward Johnson, a friend of Thomas Edison, hand wired red, white and blue bulbs and wound his tree with them.  GE (Edison's company) began offering hand-blown lights that needed to be wired together, though homeowners had to hire an electrician to get the lights together safely.  Then in 1903, the American Eveready Company came out with the first Christmas light set with screw-in bulbs and a plug for the wall socket - and folks have been untangling huge knots of lights each holiday season since then...    

BTW Check out Jeremiah 10:2-4 - The prophet Jeremiah criticizes heathens for cutting down trees, carving the trunks and placing precious metals upon the branches in reverence to their gods.  A prophecy of Christmas commercialism perhaps?   I don't really know, but I do find it interesting to think about!  :)   


Info gathered from:
www.christmastree.net
www.christmasarchives.com
www.wikipedia.com

Friday, December 10

COOL YULE - Day 1

Back in high school, I remember writing a paper about Christmas traditions, where they came from, what they mean, etc.  And I found it to be fascinating.  But the trouble is, now I don't really remember what I wrote.  So I thought it would be cool to revisit all of that, and to share it with you here in posts entitled COOL YULE.  I'm not sure I'll do it every day, and I don't know how many topics I'll cover, but we'll just see how it goes.  Hopefully we'll all enjoy it, maybe even learn a few things...  



DAY 1 - THE YULE LOG
I have never really understood "the yule log."  What the heck is a "yule" anyway?  Isn't it just a piece of firewood?  Well, apparently it is, and originally it had nothing to do with Christmas, but rather the Winter Solstice (December 21). 

The Norse celebrated winter as a Feast of the Dead, with ceremonies full of spirits, devils, the Norse god Odin and his night riders.  One festival in particular was "Jol" (a.k.a "Jule" and pronounced "yule") - this was a huge feast.  In recognition of the return of the sun, fathers and sons would bring home large logs (or trees), which they would set on fire. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could take as many as 12 days. The Norse believed that each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born during the coming year.  The Yule Log was believed to bring beneficial magic and was kept burning for at least twelve hours and sometimes as long as twelve days.  The ashes that remained from the sacred Yule Log were scattered over fields to bring fertility, or cast into wells to purify and sweeten the water. When the fire of the Yule Log was finally quenched, a small fragment of the wood would be saved and used to light the next year's log, thereby bringing prosperity and protection from evil all year long.

Of course, if you don't have a fireplace, you could just make one to eat...


Info gathered from:
www.thehistoryofchristmas.com
www.wikipedia.com
www.christmaslore.com





 

Wednesday, December 8

New Items in My Etsy Shop

Over Thanksgiving, I stitched my little heart out and turned out some cute items, and I now have them listed in my Etsy shop.  Picured below are a few of the newbies!  Hope you'll check them all out HERE

PS  A special thank you to Scarlett for taking such pretty photos of my items!










Tuesday, December 7

Michael's Sister

 
Many of you probably know that I am one of 8 kids.  The 4 youngest (including myself) were adopted, and the 4 oldest were “homemade.”  I’m #7, the youngest girl. The baby of the family, Michael, was 2 years younger than I am. 

Michael passed away 10 years ago today, December 7.  It’s weird how the day of someone’s death –someone closed to you, I mean – can be such a vivid memory.  Bruce and I had gotten dressed up, went to a nice dinner, and then to the High Point Theatre to see “A Christmas Carol.”  And when we got home, there was a message on our answering machine with the news. 

Bah humbug indeed!

Michael was only 24 when he died.  He had been born with muscular dystrophy, a disorder that involves muscle weakness and loss of muscle tissue that gets worse over time.  In Michael’s case, he had Emery-Driefuss muscular dystrophy which mainly affected the muscles used for movement and the heart muscles.  At one point, when he was about 18, doctors discovered that the valves in Michael’s heart weren’t working properly and they suggested putting in a pacemaker.  But Michael wouldn’t hear of it – I remember him saying, “When it’s my time to go, I’m ready.” 

I learned alot by being Michael's sister.  I learned things about life, about love, about family - but most of all, I learned things about myself.  And I think that if he knew all of the things I now realize I learned from him, Michael would be pleased by his legacy.  I can't wait to tell him some day.

I definitely won’t pretend that Michael and I always got along.  When we were little, I definitely did not like him.  Ha ha.  Of course not!  I resented him and the attention he got.  But as with most things, with age our relationship got better.  It’s interesting how over time, a lot of the “bad” stuff gets washed away from memory.  Maybe God allows this so that we can heal.  Or maybe it doesn’t just wash away – maybe we absorb it and learn from it.  Maybe it’s both of those things.

In any case, today I am remembering my brother, and how I miss him. 
This photo is pretty old (My nephew is a sophomore in college now). 
But Michael's silly face is a reminder of how much he loved to joke and kabitz with everyone.  :) 


Monday, November 29

To Decorate or Not To Decorate

For some strange reason, I am struggling with whether or not to decorate for Christmas this year…  It’s so much work.  So much extra clutter.  Bruce doesn’t care for it.  We will be spending Christmas with my sister and her husband, so it’s not like we’ll even be here for the actual DAY of Christmas.  Hmmm…. What to do. What to do.
I remember a time when it was all I could do to wait until after Thanksgiving to start decorating for Christmas.  And I had TONS of decorations, and they were EVERYWHERE!      But now…
Ehh. 
Am I too old for Christmas? 
Have I reached the point in my life (finally) where I’ve learned that less is more – that simpler is better?
Has Bruce’s disdain for the holidays rubbed off on me too much?
(OK, “disdain” is probably a little over-the-top, but you get the idea)
Am I just plain lazy?
Am I afraid of the possible creatures I find among the decorations once we get them from the attic - like the 4-legged or 8-legged varieties? (shudder)
Maybe it’s all of the above. 
Or none of it. 
But I’m sure not feeling motivated. 
Yet....

Thursday, November 25

14 DAYS OF THANKS - HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

I AM THANKFUL FOR...
GOOD WORD

I have been seeing TONS of commercials lately advertising all of the bargains I could find at various stores on Black Friday.  I have even seens commercials advertising all of the places where I could shop ON Thanksgiving.  Apparently, Thanksgiving has been sucked into the addicting commercialism that used to be reserved mostly for Christmas.  And that kinda annoys me.  So, I whipped out my Bible this morning to renew my mind with verses of thanks, to refresh my spirit with reminders of the true meaning of Thanksgiving.  Here are some of the truth nuggets I found:

Psalm 100
Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.

Psalm 30:11-12
You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.  O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!

Colossians 3:17
And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.

Psalm 105:1-2
Give thanks to the Lord and proclaim his greatness. Let the whole world know what he has done. Sing to him; yes, sing his praises. Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.

I Chronicles 29:11-13
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things. Wealth and honor come from you alone, for you rule over everything. Power and might are in your hand, and at your discretion people are made great and given strength. O our God, we thank you and praise your glorious name!

Ahh...  GOOD WORD!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

14 DAYS OF THANKS - Day 2

I AM THANKFUL FOR...
QUIET MORNINGS

Most of the time on weekends or days off from work, I like to sleep in.  I mean, who's going to pass up a few extra hours of sleep? 

But occasionally, I get up a bit on the early side just to enjoy the day before it starts getting away from me.  I grab some coffee and an extra blanket and then get into my big chair for some serious snuggle time with the girls.  Sometimes I indulge in guilty-pleasure TV (like Saved by the Bell), sometimes a movie, sometimes I read or stitch.  In the fall or spring, sometimes I grab my coffee and blanket and I sit out on the porch in the adirondack chairs while the girls scurry about looking for squirrels or chipmunks. 

Ahhh...  There's just something so therapeutic about having a quiet morning.  Too bad every day can't begin this way.  Oh well.  For now, I'll pour myself some more coffee and just enjoy this one.     

Tuesday, November 23

14 DAYS OF THANKS - Day 3

I AM THANKFUL FOR...
MY GIRLS

It's crazy how much a part of my life my dogs are.  And I know you are probably laughing at me for saying that, especially if you are not a pet owner, but that's ok.  I am not ashamed at how my girls fill my life with extra bits of happiness and laughter.

Dixie is 10 now.  She's our "blonde" dog - the one most folks are drawn to because her floofity hair will always make her look younger and extra-pettable. She's extra spunky - but she's also a bit air headed (She once jumped off a second-story balcony to play with another dog on the ground below).  But that silly dog is so endearing.  She frolics around the yard without fear, ears pinned back in just complete uninhibited joy.  I wish I was more like that in life.  Brave, silly Dixie.

Daisy is 11, and she will always be "my first dog," my first baby.  She's much more subdued than Dixie, and smarter.  She's also more sensitive.  She comes to me when I am crying, and licks me in reassurance.  She lets me snuggle with her.  She THRIVES on love and attention, and I am all too eager to give it to her.  Sweet, sappy Daisy.

Someday, Bruce and I will get another dog, and we will love that one too.  But for now, I am content with just my girls.

14 DAYS OF THANKS - Day 4

I AM THANKFUL FOR...
WORK BUDDIES

Bruce and I ate dinner with Keith and Leslie, sort of a reconnect/staff meeting of sorts.  And as if the mini burgers, salad bar and endless fries at Ruby Tuesday weren't awesome enough (one word: YUM), the company was spectacular!  I LOVE how the 4 of us can connect so openly about things and still get the job done.  Nobody takes offense to constructive criticisms or suggestions, everyone works towards the common good, and we have a great time doing it.  God is so good to give us such wonderful people to work with and to learn from.  :)

Monday, November 22

14 DAYS OF THANKS - Day 5

I AM THANKFUL FOR...
TIME AWAY

Bruce and I took 13 college peeps to Lake Norman this past weekend for our College Retreat, and it was awesome!  We stayed in a great big house right on the water, lots of windows, lots of room, lots of food, lots of laughing, lots of good God-talks...

There's something so wonderful about getting away from the norm, and just reconnecting with God and each other on a different level.  And it's even more wonderful to see the college students doing all that too.

I'm back in the office today, exhausted almost beyond belief, but it was so worth it!

14 DAYS OF THANKS - Day 6

I AM THANKFUL FOR...
SOMEONE ELSE'S COOKING

Saturday morning, I sat in the breakfast nook of the lake house, drinking coffee and watching the mist rise off of Lake Norman, as 4 college students prepped breakfast for the group.  Baked oatmeal, French toast casserole, scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon...  it was divine! 

I enjoy cooking - I actually feel like I do it pretty well.  But now and then, it's just so nice to have someone else take care of all that.  There's something SO GOOD about someone else's cooking. I tell Bruce all the time that my coffee tastes better when he makes it for me - he thinks I say that out of my laziness, but it's truly because it's just nice to be served now and then.  And when it's served out of love....YUMMY!!!

Can I have some more please? 

14 DAYS OF THANKS - Day 7

I AM THANKFUL FOR…
HEALTH AND BEAUTY PRODUCTS
Is that ridiculous?  Is that vain?  Is that girly?

Maybe.

But I tell you this, while you might believe I wake up each morning looking this ravishing and amazing (hardee har har...), there's actually a good bit of "product" that goes into my day.

Shampoo, conditioner, scrubs, pastes, lotions, sprays, polishes, powders, glosses, creams...  Oh the list could go on forever (seriously, I mean FOR-EV-ERRRRRR.....).  And, while I am so not the typical princess-ish girly-girl, there is something about certain beauty products that just make me oh so happy.

Like a good face powder that covers without being cakey.
Or a toothpaste that cleans well, freshens breath AND whitens. 
Or a mascara that gives your lashes that little touch of "flirt."
Or a lotion or body spray that makes you huggable but not fruitcake-like.
Ooooh, or a nail polish in a fun color that actually lasts (see Sally Hansen's complete salon manicure collection).

It is because of all of these things that I could walk around CVS or Walgreens for HOURS and be completely happy.  Seriously.  I think I could have a problem.

Is that crazy?

Maybe.

But I think not.  :) 

Thursday, November 18

14 DAYS OF THANKS - Day 8

I AM THANKFUL FOR…
TEARS


I know that probably seems weird, that I am thankful for tears.  Probably most people do not like them, maybe even despise them.  I actually used to be one of those people - and sometimes still struggle with them, or at least my acceptance of them.  But when they are put into proper context, I find I am actually grateful for them.

Last night, I had a good cry (I'm surprised at myself for admitting that.  But now it's out there, so I'm gonna go with it).

Last night, I had a good cry.  And once the first few tears fell, they just kept coming and coming, until I couldn't speak (except for in a very ugly squeaky voice), and the dogs raced to my aid for surely I must have been dying, and Bruce hovered over me in that "I'm-your-husband-so-I-care-but-I-don't-know-what to-do" state of confusion. 

But the process of crying has a very cleansing affect on me, and on my thoughts.  I suspect it's that way for most of us.  At first, we begin crying simply because we cannot help it. Then we continue because, well, now we're on a roll.  We might pause for a moment to think about the situation, then begin again until the need for tears has subsided and the crying session ends.  And then what happens?  A feeling of renewal, of quiet, or comfort, of newness.  Man, I felt AMAZING when I woke up this morning, like it was TRULY a brand new day!  And I truly believe it was because my abundance of unused tears had been reduced.

It's not that I enjoy crying, mind you, but I do enjoy the peace that comes thereafter.  It must be that pesky Holy Comforter at work again.!  :) 

Psalm 73:26 - My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Wednesday, November 17

14 DAYS OF THANKS - Day 9

I AM THANKFUL FOR…
GOD SMILES

It always amazes me at the way God smiles at me – sometimes in big ways, and sometimes in small ways. Here are some that I’ve noticed lately:
  • Seeing the autumn leaves dance on the breeze as I walked across campus today
  • Hearing the laughter of friends around a bonfire
  • Finding the perfect supplies for the College Retreat at the Dollar Store  
  • An email from a friend saying she misses me
  • Getting an unexpected bill from the eye doctor on the same day that we get a letter from Bruce’s flex spending account telling us we have enough money left to cover it
  • New inspiration for an art project
  • Being one of the people that a friend trusts enough to share details about her love interest
  • Watching the squirrels tirelessly gather acorns and bury them outside my office window
  • The 6:45 am friendliness of the girl at Dunkin Donuts
I wonder what God smiles you guys have seen?

Tuesday, November 16

14 DAYS OF THANKS - Day 10

I AM THANKFUL FOR...
BEGINNINGS
The start of something is always an exciting point for me.  Fresh.  New.  Full of promise.  So much potential.  No blemishes or mistakes.  And it can be something as simple as that first slice into a freshly-baked cake or the start of a new art project or a new job.
One of my absolute favorite "beginnings" involves my cell phone.  You know how when you buy it, it comes with that clear plastic protector that you can remove once you purchase it?  Oh my gosh!  I LOVE those things!!!  Bruce once made the mistake of removing mine for me, and I was heartbroken.  Seriously!  I had been robbed of the preciousness of the beginning of my relationship with my cell phone.   
Over these last several months, I have been experiencing and enjoying lots of beginnings around me:
Beginning a new job
Bruce beginning his role as an associate pastor
A friend beginning a romantic relationship
My brother beginning his role as a daddy for the first time
College grads beginning their lives in the real world
Lives changed through salvation decisions 
All fresh.  All new.  All full of promise.  All full of so much potential.  No blemishes or mistakes. 
Some simple.  Some more involved.  But all are precious. 
  

14 DAYS OF THANKS - Day 11

I AM THANKFUL FOR...
A CUP OF GOOD COFFEE

Notice that I did not say "a good cup of coffee."  The coffee itself has to be good.  (I’m a bit of a coffee snob).  To me, a cup of really good coffee is basically

FRESHLY
GROUND
HEAVEN. 

There are few things that can compete against the aroma, the taste, the warmth of it.  Even the routine of making coffee and pouring just enough half-and-half into it until it turns that perfect shade of beige – not too dark and not too light.  Mmmm!  It’s like drinking a cup of love. 

Drink up, my friends!

Sunday, November 14

14 DAYS OF THANKS - Day 12

I AM THANKFUL FOR...
GOOD TALKS

Last night, we had a bonfire for some of the college peeps and a few friends. The air was cold, the fire was hot (like melt-your-face hot at times, ha ha!), the night sky was full of stars... And the only thing that made it better was having a chance to have a great chat with one of the college girls there. Don't you just love it when that happens?! I do. I love it when we get past the surface talking points and get to the nitty-gritty stuff. It's almost like there's something magical in sharing personal moments like that with another person. It's giving and receiving on a whole different level, and it changes the relationship for the better. LOVE IT!!

14 DAYS OF THANKS - Day 13

I AM THANKFUL FOR...
HUGS

I am not a very touchy-feely person - at all.  Never have been.  But there's just something about a good hug that I love.  They can be so warm, so comforting, so loving.  Granted, from the wrong person, hugs can be downright creepy, but from the right person, hugs are sometimes EXACTLY what I need.  It takes a lot of breaking down personal barriers to give someone a hug, and even to receive one.  Maybe that's why I like them.  Or maybe it's that, for those few seconds, I feel united in body and spirit with another person - a rarity in a world that is so focused on me-me-me.  Maybe it's lots of things.  In any case, I feel like hugs are little touches from God, little reminders that we are not alone, that we are loved just the way we are.  And who wouldn't want that?