Thursday, December 12, 2013

New blog!

Please visit me at my new home here...


Some of you may have tried to stop by here over the last few days and gotten a Malware warning.  With much investigation and some help from my son, Jay, it turns out that the culprit was a photo I posted last Sunday with a Christmas scripture.  So the offending image has been removed but in the meantime, I moved to a new blog home.  Now that I'm settled in, I'm going to stay there but I'm certainly glad to at least have access to my first blog, lots of memories and friends here!  I hope that you'll stop in for a cup of coffee at the new place.

Love, grace and gratitude!

Monday, December 09, 2013

The Joy-Grabber

Jay, Mac, Grandpa/Dad, Grandma/Mom, Susan and Amy

I'm only dropping by to share this photograph taken last night at the Motown Christmas Experience we attended at my sister's church.  Look at these beautiful faces :)  

I have officially become a joy-grabber this past year.  And I ain't sorry!

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Hospital Christmas Party!

Left to right:  Deb (Staffing coodinator); Barb (Nurse Manager); Cheryl (The Boss); Sara

Wendy (Nurse Manager) who is a lovely Christian woman and continues to faithfully attempt to curb the bad language and unprofessionally behavior of her peers.  She happened to sit down at our table and since she does not drink (or otherwise misbehave) everyone pushed their drinks and beer bottles in front of her and I snapped a photo for a future blackmailing purposes :)

Susan & Mac (AKA Mr. Mac as he known at work)


Blurry but I just think they are so cute :)

Me, the Mr., Mac & Susan

Susan and Mac

Love those faces.

The four of us attended the hospital Christmas party on Saturday evening.  Mac and his girl came along because Mac works as a mental health tech, for those of you who are wondering why only one kid was there :)  As you can see, we got all dolled up and stayed out until 10:30 at night!  LOL!
We had a lovely time with one another enjoying some time away from the hospital together.  During some difficult work days, these folks gave me a reason to laugh, held my hand (I think to prevent me running away) and hugged me through some rough moments.  I'm honored and grateful to still have the opportunity to spend my days with them because they have become my best friends.  
And don't my kids look pretty?  

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Busy weekend~

1.  Getting my TB test read.
2.  Home mani.
3.  House chores.
4.  Christmas work party tonight.
5.  Grocery shopping.
6.  Motown Christmas concert Sunday evening.
7.  Breakfast, baking and movies on Monday.
8.  Finish picking up stocking stuffers.
9.  Wrap one last gift.
10.  Looking forward to snow on Monday!

Friday, December 06, 2013

Moments on purpose

I think most people wish for Norman Rockwell moments, and sigh when year after year passes without them.  Oh, for the good old days!  Oh, indeed!  I couldn't agree more.  As a reluctant career woman and wanna-be full time homemaker, there are few who wish for those precious long lost days more than I do.  I wasted many days with a certain sadness always hovering in my heart that this is all there is to life now.  And then, when I'd had quite enough of longing and not enough of doing, I learned a lesson (and for once, not too late!)
Those Norman Rockwell snapshots might not be as common as they once were, but they will only become extinct one home at a time.  And in this home, they won't be extinct until I am.  Imagine my surprise when I realized that technology was key in hanging on to the used-to-be!  Now, you see, I schedule moments.  Once upon a time, that would've seemed too manufactured to be satisfying but I've outgrown that.  I happily use Google Chrome to send out invitations and place events on the calendars of my loved ones.  In fact, daboyz will regularly look down at their phones to find me there!
So this weekend, the Mr. and I are attending the work party on Saturday with Mac and Susan.  On Sunday, we'll all be going to a Motown Christmas Show at my sister's church (courtesy of my mom,) and on Monday the ladies will gather at my house for a day of baking and White Christmas on DVD.  All of this, by the way, scheduled several weeks ago.  Because that's the reality now, we can't just pick up the phone and expect everyone to be available.
I encourage you to start reclaiming time for a few Norman Rockwell moments.  Make it a priority.  Facebook is full of like this and share that to express the conservative Christian perspective.  I say that if we continue to value home and family, tradition and time;  we'll continue to maintain the core of God-centered America that we all treasure.  Don't underestimate it.
We live too much "out there" and not nearly enough "in here."  In the home, face to face.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Our house~

The sentimental, old-fashioned memory tree.

With a little bit of fun bling!


Antique hutch

You'd be amazed at how much time I've wasted trying to figure out how to decorate this hutch!  I think I finally figured it out, old-fashioned items like this old garland on top.

Since I shared my parents' decorations, I thought I'd give you a little taste of the festivities at the Smith House!  I feel like I've struggled this year to get things right.  Why this would be, I've no idea!  I mean, shouldn't it just all be exactly like it's always been if it's always been right?  Apparently, this is a Christmas mystery.
Our family room is the place that I feel should look like a child's idea of Christmas.  Which is why I couldn't bear white lights on the tree!  Not sure if you can tell, but those are big old fashioned colorful lights.  I saw "snow" on a friends tree and copied her.  There are very few space filler ornaments on this tree, it's all sentimental.
Then there's the mantle, which just felt like a deep dark hole!  I think the snow strung with (yes) white lights fixed that problem.  The hutch never quite cooperated but this year, I think I've stumbled upon the solution.  So now, by George, I think I've got it!
Not all of it because naturally, the lighted garlands were beautifully lit on the floor and croaked out immediately when hung.  The Mr. is working on those this weekend.
Once I've wrapped the gifts and placed them under the tree and those garlands are again lit, I do believe I shall say all is well and Christmas can continue as planned...LOL.
I'll share some photos of the front room on another day.  Still have some final touches for that room which include sending the Mr. back into the attic for the nativity.
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Finally!

Wednesday, December 04, 2013


The last few days have had the seeds of frustration ready to be planted.  Thankfully, the Lord stayed my emotions and I am exercising a new muscle; just letting things be what they are.  In my transition from my former position to my current one, I have reduced the time I work (hallelujah!)  We are a small hospital and don't have an employee health department in our building.  We have to go downtown to the main campus in Detroit for employee health services EXCEPT for once a year when they send two nurses to do our annual health mandatories:  flu shot, TB test, respirator fit test.  And guess who was not working on that one day?  Yup!  Well, the deadline for compliance was December 1 and if you also guessed that I never hauled myself downtown, you are correct.
I can't take the flu shot that the system provides because of Thimersol sensitivity so I have to pay out of pocket for the preservative free version.  Which also has to be special ordered if you're not lucky enough to sneak in and get it when the one or two vials stocked are available.  And guess who had to wait for the special order?  And pay out of pocket?  Yup, yup, yup!
Waiting to get my preservative-free flu shot (which I really don't like taking anyway!) and already being behind schedule and missing the day employee health was on site, I find myself having missed the December 1 deadline.  Of course, that puts me with a large and unhappy rabble vying for appointments downtown.  I called yesterday, they are so backed up you can't even speak to a human being.  I was instructed, via electronic voice mail, to leave my name and number and don't expect a call back for 24 hours or so.  Still no call.  Which means...
No work for me.  That's not bad, I mean, I would rather not work.  However, I do still need to work and the holidays are not the time to whittle down one's paycheck.  My doctor is triple booked for a week, can't get in there to get it.  So here I am, on the blacklist for lack of a TB screening.  Yes, I did get that daggone flu shot, harumph!
So tomorrow, I'll storm the gates again and may just have to haul myself downtown to wait patiently with the rest of the unwashed (or at least noncompliant) hordes in need of a TB screening.  Two days off work has been nice but I need to get some time in before the week's up.
I've done a little more Christmas decorating, spent some time with my mom, made a few Christmas gifts and if I'm off tomorrow, I suppose I'll get to wrapping.  Then again, it's "that time" by which I mean hormone migraine time.  A fine time to be grounded if ever there was one.
So I haven't planted those seeds of frustration.  Another day at home, I may just dip them in glitter and hang them on the tree but I will not let them take root!

Tuesday, December 03, 2013


God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.  
Ephesians 1:5 (NLT)

Who are you?  Who who who who?  
I think about this a lot, about identity.  How important it is to know who we are and then to keep ourselves living in places and situations where our identities are continually nurtured.  Time spent in other places can leave us confused about who we are and leave us feeling at loose ends.  Unmoored.  Unanchored.  Drifting.

Our parents and family are the ones charged with that first introduction to teaching us who we are.  This is why children born into stressful homes struggle almost from birth with self confidence.  No one told them who they were, and they spend their lives trying to figure it out.  This is of such dire importance because who we are gives us a sense of birth right.  We know we have a right to this life, we know how we should be treated and we know when we are being lied to.  We know how to trust because we heard the whispers at bedtime and in the mornings, "You are my precious son/daughter.  I love you.  You are wanted here.  You are one of us.  You belong."  It's that sense of belonging to something bigger and stronger than we are on our own that compels us "home."  It makes us long for the old days with grandparents now in heaven and draws us back together for holiday dinners. It's what, in this modern age, has us texting and emailing and posting pictures.  Look, it's us!  It's me, it's who I am!   

When people ask me why I left my position as a nurse manager, the answer is simple.  It wasn't the right role for me any longer.  It wasn't who I was.  I did the work I was intended to do, I learned the lessons and then God declared..."You are no longer a nurse manager."  And then, it wasn't right any longer.  

God's fingerprint on us is the true definition of who we are.  And the devil can do immeasurable damage by simply distracting us from the sacred calling of simply being God's creation.  We all have a childhood memory of that moment when we realized some kid didn't like us.  Or a teacher was unkind.  Or we looked down and saw rags that just that morning were simply clothes.  When the innocent assumption of being treasured was ripped away and we felt exposed and foolish.  When the gentle whispers of love were drowned out by the hateful hiss of the enemy, "You aren't wanted here.  You don't belong.  You aren't good enough."  

"You are nobody."

And our identities, before we truly understood them, became blurry.  

All spiritual insight aside, who are you?  Are you an introvert (hand in the air!) or an extrovert?  Are you hilariously funny if sometimes a tad inappropriate (hand in the air again!)  Are you more often serious and thoughtful?  Do you snort and cry when you laugh?  Do you pay attention to the tiniest details, with slow and careful deliberation?  Are you a big-picture person?  Are you disorganized, never able to put your hands on the item you need?  Do you love to cook?  Hate to bake?  Are you cowboy boots and jeans or high heals and sparkles?  Old movies or sci fi? Junk food or sprouts?  

Who are you?  And by the way, that previous paragraph was one long trick question.  Every single answer is a spiritual insight.  Everything about you was intentionally woven into your DNA, all of it and more than could ever be covered in a simple blog.

Satan had an identity.  Then he threw it away and tried to recreate himself.  All that was beautiful and good in him suffocated under the mask of pride until ugliness was all that was left.  And peace was gone. Being the supreme counterfeiter, he wishes to be a creator like God.  But all he can really do is confuse and distract us so that we, too, forget who we are.  Confusion, anxiety, depression and hopelessness are the traits he passes on.  We look in the mirror and no longer see something intentional and good, we see a fake, an imitator.  But that's not what we were created for, that's not who we are...

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 
2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

It's amazing when you think about God's point of view, because it's one of adoption-not entitlement.  Nobody got there be simply being born.  God looked at us, one by one and said, "I choose you." "And you."  "And you."  And you, in the corner thinking no one sees you?  I choose you."  And we, his adopted, give him pleasure!  The snorting laugher, the disorganized one who can't find her car keys, the book worm and the introvert and that girl who spends way too much time on Pinterest?  Every single one of us, all of the details that make us who we are, give him pleasure.  If we'd only surrender to the adoption process, we'd get a new identity. 

 It's the miraculous revelation of who we are.  

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Thanksgiving Day 2013
Mac, Susan and Jay working on stubborn tree lights.  

After lots of patience and work, the tree is lit and it's time to decorate (Susan & Jay pictured.)
Jay putting some finishing touches on the tree.

Grandpa/my dad supervising.

Brooke and Amy taking care of the fancy tree in the living room.

The Family Room tree is complete! 
A few Christmas touches on the mantle and it's time to relax and enjoy.

Will work for pizza!

After recovering from Thanksgiving, we headed back to my mom and dad's house on  Sunday to deck their halls!  The family gathered to haul the Christmas decorations up from the basement and in from the garage and spent a few wonderful hours giggling and chatting while we decorated the Trent Home together.  The Mr., Daboyz and their girlz, my Aunt Kathy and her daughter Brooke, my sister Amy and I descended upon my poor parents and took over.  We were rewarded with pizza from our favorite local pizza joint, Pizza King.  We've been eating Pizza King together as long as I can remember and it always makes me think of my Trent grandparents, which made the day all the sweeter.

So the holidays have officially arrived, our halls are decked and our hearts are full to overflowing with God's goodness.  What a great start to a very Merry Christmas!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christmas doin's (and a slight head cold)

1.  Got our Christmas decorations done yesterday.
2.  Worth all of the hard work to awaken this morning to Christmas trees and holly!
3.  Think I'm coming down with a slight case of creeping crud, blah.
4.  Flannel reindeer sheets on our bed, snuggly and  sweet sleeping for us!
5.  I love the fact that when I dramatically informed the Mr., "I can't bear white lights on the tree, I need big old fashioned color lights!!"  (literally, this what I said,)  he calmly took off the white lights and changed them to big old fashioned color lights.
6.  I'm hoping he has the same attitude when I send him back up to the attic to fetch the nativity.
7.  Tomorrow we're gathering again at my mom and dad's to deck their halls.  Love family time, love the holidays.  
8.  Next Saturday Mac, Susan, the Mr. and I are attending the work Christmas party; mainly as an excuse for the very girly Susan to dress up. I see Spanx in my future. 
9.  Did anybody else catch the Lady Gaga with the Muppets on Thursday?  Makes me sad that we're blurring the lines between wholesome and, well, Lady Gaga.
10.  We put our Christmas tree in a new spot this year.  Usually it's back in a the corner where you really can't see the bottom very well.  I love pictures of big old farm houses with Christmas trees in the kitchen so this is my attempt at the enjoying the tree top to bottom and sort of having a tree in the kitchen. 
Poor quality camera phone pic, but you get the idea.  

Friday, November 29, 2013

It's the most wonderful time~

Finally!  The Christmas Season is officially here!  The Mr. and I are sitting in front of the fire feeling entirely over-fed and abundantly blessed.  Mac is still asleep, he works afternoons today.  Jay, our banker (LOL) is working today.  So that leaves Dean and I to begin decking our halls!  This is always done the Friday after Thanksgiving but this is the first year that I can remember that I'm home to participate.  I even got flannel reindeer sheets for the beds!  Yesterday, the first holiday since 2007 that I wasn't on-call for work (or at work,)  was just too lovely to adequately describe.  Peaceful would be the best word, I believe.
Another cup of coffee and maybe an English muffin and it'll be time to remove the Thanksgiving decorations from the front tree and take down the Autumn leaves and put away the pumpkins and pilgrims.
No Black Friday shopping.  I can't even imagine it, I don't like shopping on any color other day!  Most of my shopping is done online and is one of the few technological advancements in life that I don't regret.
So there's a fine chance that, should you drop by our house today, you'll find me still in pajamas and pony tail drinking endless cups of Starbuck's Holiday Blend from my new cardinals-in-a-Christmas tree cup.  If we're extra efficient, I might even get a few gifts wrapped!
Where ever you are today, stay safe and remember to enjoy the celebration of God with us.  If it starts to feel like work, take a break and let the truth of the Christ Child restore your joy.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Hello honey!

Happy Thanksgiving!
What a beautiful (snowy) day already in The Mitten.  Donny the Dog is in and out; running around in the snow and then in for a warm up and then back out again.  I'm enjoying my first cup of Starbuck's Holiday Blend of the season; soooooo good.  And twice as good in my new Christmas cup.  Our new flannel reindeer sheets arrived yesterday and I've tossed them into the washing machine so they will be fresh and soft tomorrow when we deck the halls right down to the beds.
The cranberry and coconut cream pies are ready to pack up and take to my parents' home later today.  Mac's girl Susan is coming over at 11:00 to help with the sausage and dressing and roasted root vegetables that will round out our contribution.  She and Mac made spinach pie last night for an appetizer; yum!
Yesterday marked six years since my Gramma passed from here to heaven, in this very house, in fact.  Seems so long ago since that time when we spent her last days right here in her home with her.  A true spiritual matriarch, she didn't leave us with wringing hands and stunning grief.  No, there was a deep and sweet peacefulness in this little bungalow as she laid in bed, never really waking up during those final days.  We took turns visiting with her; talking to her, singing softly, reading the Word of God she loved so much or just being quiet.  I still see my sister and I, always in scrubs, as we came and went from work.  My mom's brother came from out of state and her cousin from out of town to take turns around the clock; caring for my grandmother and one another.
On Thanksgiving Eve that year, it was just my mom and I here in the house with my gramma as we awaited her homegoing.  My mom was, for reasons I do not fully understand, determined to make multiple mini fruitcake type bread things and had bought heaven knows how many mini loaf pans for the project.  We sat at my gramma's kitchen table exhausted and downright punchy, giggling and mixing a giant bowl of this bread stuff and making tiny loaf after tiny loaf.  Finally, exhausted with rows of mini loaves of bread cooling, it was time for bed.  My mom was sleeping in my gramma's bed and my grandmother was in her hospital bed in the second room leaving me to choose the sofa bed or an extra bed in the basement.  Knowing what that sofa bed was like from years of childhood sleep-overs, I chose the basement bed.  As I said, we were exhausted and punchy and sort of hoping that Gramma would hold on until the day after Thanksgiving (well, it's true!)  I stumbled down the basement stairs and had this thought, this idea, this grampa.
My grampa passed away years before my gramma.  But in my mind, I could clearly imagine him there in the basement wearing a red sweater vest and saying, "Hello honey."
And I freaked out and ran back up the stairs and slept on the horrible sofa bed.
And this, friends, has become the lore and legend of the final days of my gramma's life.  It really is a matter of her legacy, as ridiculous and undignified as it all was!  Because we were already mourning her but, not like those without hope.  We felt utterly complete in our relationship with her and in our knowledge of her eternity and in her warm and snug little house.  There was room to be too tired, too silly and to laugh at the foolishness of my refusal to spend the night in the basement with my red sweater vested grampa (hello honey!)  There were tender moments of hand-holding.  There was the beginning of the good-byes a few weeks earlier when we realized she was in her final days and Mac carried her from her home to the hospital (I'll leave that story to my mom, it feels like it really belongs to her.)
Happy Thanksgiving, may your comings and goings be filled with sweet peace, joy and maybe even just a few utterly ridiculous and undignified snorting belly laughs.  (Pic:  Gramma and I in the infamous basement)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Pie Day!

So tomorrow is Pie Day!  Do you have any Thanksgiving preparations on your agenda?  Mac's girl Susan is coming over to make a coconut cream and a Nantucket cranberry pie.  If you're looking for an easy and crowd-pleasing Thanksgiving dessert, I highly recommend this recipe, from The Pioneer Woman.  And that, my friends, is all I have to offer you this evening!  I worked today, I'm a little bit tired and getting ready to take a long shower because tomorrow is...


Monday, November 25, 2013

Be the Samaritan~

Luke 10: 30-35
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

It's no secret that much of the heartache and stress in life is self-induced.  We've all done utterly foolish things that came back and bit us in the backside.  We've all dug our heals in and paid a dear price for stubbornness.  In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus doesn't really explain what the man was doing when he was attacked, just that he was going down the road. Yet, when we run across someone who has been beaten down, how often do we scrutinize how they got there before we decide to help?  The phrase, "kick 'em when they're down,"  came from some universal truth.  It seems to make sense to let someone pay for their mistakes so they learn a lesson.  Consequences.  
I'm not opposed to consequences.  What I've learned is to be cautious about letting natural consequences occur as an excuse to do nothing.  
What if the Samaritan had said, "What were you doing traveling alone?"  "Why weren't you more careful?"  "What were you thinking?"  A half dead man probably isn't in any condition to learn a lesson.  Instead, the Lord tells us that the Samaritan tended to the man, provided him comfort and an opportunity to heal.  No, he didn't move the guy into his basement and protect him from ever having to travel again.  He just gave the measure of help that would enable the injured man to get on his feet.  Kindness, that's what I'm thinking of.  There is no value to withholding kindness.  Even while hell is the ultimate consequence for our sin, God never withholds gentle mercy.  He gives to us as much as we will receive.  He rescues moments.  
We can rescue moments without erasing the lessons learned of natural consequence. 
We can provide a meal without paying the rent of a person who is habitually irresponsible with their finances.  We can be the person who doesn't insist on talking about the problem and give the relief of a few hours of escape.  We can babysit for those overwhelmed parents who "shouldn't" have had a baby so young so they have an opportunity to nurture their own relationship.  On and on, the rescue of moments that minister to someone who has made their own lives painful might give them just enough strength to pick themselves up and do better. 
Be the Samaritan.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Let the festivities begin!

I'm so happy this week is here!  The holidays will officially start on Thursday.  Actually, for me they will start on Wednesday because I'm working Monday and Tuesday only.  On Wednesday I'm staying home to chip chip chop (as my Grandma Trent used to say.)  Translated, that means chop and prep and cook and bake.  My mom is hosting Thanksgiving at the Trent House.  We were assigned pies for dessert so I'll be making coconut cream with meringue and Nantucket cranberry pie (a Pioneer Woman recipe.)  I'm also making a pan of sausage dressing and roasted root vegetables to add to the feast.  That takes us to Friday when...
Christmas decorations time arrives!  We'll take the harvest decorations off of the Thanksgiving tree and deck the halls.  I have about half of my gifts purchased so the trees will be just in time for the wrapped packages.
On Sunday, we're gathering again to decorate my parent's house for the holidays.  I have a feeling the next seven days will be flying by.
Now it's your turn, what's happening in your home this Thanksgiving week?

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Hair apparent~

1.  This is my senior picture; 1985.
2.  On my way home from work yesterday, I stopped at the drug store and spotted sponge rollers.
3.  Sleeping on sponge rollers every night was how I achieved the look on the left.
4.  Yup, I bought me some sponge rollers.
5.  Apparently, one loses one's ability to sleep on sponge rollers with age.
6.  My hair is frighteningly large.
7.  I love it.
8.  I can't go out in public looking like this.
9.  I do not look like I have fabulously spiral curled hair.
10.  I look like an old fat chick who hasn't updated her hair.
11.  I love big hair and I cannot lie.

Monday, November 18, 2013

A patchwork home~

I have a thought, a theory, a concern.
My worry is for young people starting out life on their own but not knowing that they need a home.  I don't mean that they are wandering the streets and sleeping in dumpsters.  I mean that home has become this largely unattainable idea of grand McMansions with granite counter tops and expensive furniture.  Or else, home has become just a place to shower in the morning and sleep at night; an unadorned and uninspiring storage unit for one's life.  But that's not home, not really.
Our homes reflect an unfolding understanding of who we are over a lifetime.  It's the place that provides a cradle to rest, a springboard to launch from and the stage for the tiniest moments that become Life.  Home should be treasured and nurtured.  We are busy, too busy.  We fall through the doorway exhausted and in need of refueling and we need a place that will provide that.  A place to be anchored.  A place we'd rather be than anywhere else in the world.
Do you remember the scene from It's A Wonderful Life, when George and Mary lead the parade as a family moves into their first home?  They cram children and boxes and even a goat into their car to lead the processional.  Arriving,  the Martini home is christened...Bread... that this house may never know hunger. [Mary hands a loaf of bread to Mrs. Martini] Mary: Salt... that life may always have flavor. [Mary hands a box of salt to Mrs. Martini] George Bailey: And wine... that joy and prosperity may reign forever.  [George hands Mr. Martini a bottle of wine] 
I can't remember the last time I knew of a housewarming.  I mean a good old fashioned housewarming to celebrate and thank God for the provision of a home.  People seem only to have such gatherings when they've moved into something grand and huge.  In my mind, a housewarming should be a moment to pause and worship and soak in the miracle of home.  It doesn't need to be a party to cut the ribbon on a perfectly appointed house (not that I'd mind having one of those!)  I love the idea of a housewarming held to bring the basics that turn a place into a home.  Groceries to stock the pantry, a coffee pot to greet the mornings, kitchen towels or paper towels.  Friends and loved ones bit by bit bringing small and large items to fill the walls and in the process, to leave their fingerprints. How about a casserole dish filled with a warm dinner to enjoy and the new homeowners get to keep the dish itself?  My first home(s) were largely furnished with hand-me-downs, and that made it even better.  My grandma's old bed linens were soft and smelled like home, hers!  And here was an extra soup pot from my mom and there was a set of wooden spoons from someone else and then cake platter found in a basement and none of it new.  Items from home to home, those are the best.  They seem to know how to settle right in and glow with a certain warmth that Ikea hasn't captured.
Home home home!  I think that if we descended on the new homes of the people in our lives and stocked the pantries and spread old worn out quilts over beds; if we hung paintings snatched from our own living room walls to add a dash of color to a new living room; if we made sure there was a coffee pot (I think I have 3 old ones in my basement right now!) and a can of coffee to brew and one or two coffee cups from our own cabinets...I think the world could turn around.  People would have an anchor, a haven, a place they long for during long work days.  Husbands and wives would daydream about dinner together (and let's not forget to teach people how to cook a simple meal.)  In moments of feeling alone in the world, they could look around and see the items that knit them to people who love them.  A cup of tea from an mismatched set because each one came from a friend,  couldn't that mean something on difficult days?
And forever, the memory of the day that people came in a parade through the door with dish soap or a dozen eggs or a toilet brush!  A home, anointed with laughter and love and a little less anxiety when you realize you didn't even have toilet paper...thank goodness someone brought some!
Then we, who know the secret of home and the goodness of God might even stand on tiptoe and ask for every one's attention so that this place can be dedicated to the Lord in prayer.
Like a patchwork quilt, the hand-me-downs and old butter dishes and chipped dinner plates become sewn together by the Holy Spirit and before you know it...
You're home.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A hand full of blessings~

The meatloaf is in the oven and the green beans are simmering on the stove.  Scalloped potatoes will round out our comfort food dinner.  I have one more load of laundry, towels.  Mac's girl Susan is doing her homework on the couch next to her guy who is watching football.  I'm on the other couch next to my guy who is also watching football.
Just another plain old Sunday afternoon, and I love it.
Actually, we just got home around 12:30 after a long weekend in Traverse City celebrating (belatedly) our 27th wedding anniversary.  Or, as the Mr. says, our 31st anniversary of going steady, which is November 19, 1982.  We stayed in a beautiful suite overlooking the bay on Lake Michigan, we had a fireplace and Jacuzzi...the works!  It was wonderful and yet, this is wonderful too.  Would you think I'm strange if I said it is even more wonderful?  Last night, Dean said, "Wouldn't it be perfect if we could just live here forever?" And my answer was, that I love my life in my little house.  I didn't always, mind you.  But now, I am beyond content.  So when it's time to load up the suitcase and head home, I'm just as excited as I was to pack up and head out.  On the four hour drive back to Dearborn, we listened to Christmas music (my idea,) and pretended the rainy sky was snowing (at least I did.)  We talked about the shopping we need to do for the holidays.  And I decided upon meatloaf for dinner.   It just sounded homey.
Tomorrow morning, I shall enjoy a cup of coffee in my new coffee cup with a cardinal on it.  This, I look forward to much more than you'd think.
It's time to check on that meatloaf and relax over dinner.
My blessings overflow, like raindrops in my hand.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

There's something to Christmas after all~

Years ago, I worked with a Jewish gentleman.  He was a few years older than me, a social worker, and always volunteered to work the Christmas holidays because, well, because he was Jewish!  One year, we were chatting about Christmas decorations and the onslaught of earlier and earlier holiday items in stores.  I asked him, "Does it drive you nuts or is it all just off of your radar?"
His answer confirmed why it's important to celebrate big at Christmas if you're a Christian.
He said there was no music, in the entire world, as beautiful and moving to him as Christmas carols.  Old hymns or Jingle Bells...all gave him the chills.  He talked about hearing Christmas music in the mall and just standing there and feeling it physically, the joy.
He said he always accepted invitations to people's home during this holiday season just for the pleasure of sitting near a sparkling tree and looking at each ornament.  He was sorry that some people felt, for the sake of sensitivity, that they shouldn't include him in Secret Santas or give him Christmas cookies or other gifts.  In fact, he announced to his co-workers that he wanted to be a part of everything!
For most of his life growing up, Christmas was a distant cultural celebration not acknowledged in his home.  Of course, there was Hanukkah, and it was cherished and wonderful.  As a boy, he admired the Christmas lights but never particularly felt he was missing out.  Then, one day, a friend in college invited him to midnight mass.  A social work major, he thought this would be a good exercise in cultural awareness.  And so he went.
"I was like a little kid.  I stood there with the voices all around me singing these slightly familiar songs that I didn't know the words to and I almost cried.  I still don't know why, but when I hear those old songs, like Silent Night, I want to sit down on the floor and cry.  And there were these trees at the front of the church all lit up and holly garlands on the altars and it was unlike anything I had ever experienced.  I fell in love with Christmas.  I'm a Jew who loves Christmas although  I have no idea why.  Crazy, huh?"
He went on to say that when "you gentiles" (LOL) talk about dreading Christmas and don't want to mess with the decorations or complain about Christmas music, he's baffled.  I asked him if it doesn't all make him want to get to know Jesus just a little bit.  He grinned and said, at Christmas time, it's really tempting.
And this, friends, is why Christians should guard their hearts so that we don't become desensitized to the miracle. I'm not talking about the ever-mourned commercialization of Christmas.  I am suggesting, that the miracle of Christ's birth is so much larger and more amazing than the human mind can comprehend.  The redemption of the world is larger than what can be contained in our hearts; it bursts forth and finds expression in every small and large detail of Christmas.  Celebration, excitement, joy, laughter, even the ugliest of ugly sweaters!  All of it is the world forever stretching to fully express the relief of Jesus.  We groaned and died under such a burden of sin, and now it's gone.  We should light up the world, and the gaudier the better!  Turn up the music a little louder, make another batch of cookies, wear a Santa hat to work, eat a candy cane for goodness sake!
There is a world of unbelievers who pause in the mall to catch the strains of Oh Holy Night and think, "there's something to this."
Celebrate with your heart, be the light that leads someone to the manger

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


In one of my favorite series of books (The Mitford books by Jan Karon,)  the characters often describe simple blessings as "a consolation."  As in, a roaring fire on a chilly evening...a consolation.  The recitation of a Psalm, the beauty of  a garden, the company of a loyal dog...consolation.   Consolation simply means comfort, a kindness, something that eases a person's heart after a disappointment or even simply a difficult day.  I've been thinking about the love of God and the role we play in one another's lives, that of consolation.

In marriage, for instance, the love of our spouse is a consolation.  The same of friendship and of simple acts of kindness.  God's love is ever-present and his grace is all sufficient and yet; sometimes the touch of another person is such consolation.  The other side of the coin is that when we fail one another, God's love and grace is the sweet consolation that enables us to forgive and give our hearts to a new day.  We are meant to be the representatives of God in the earth.  Most of the time, we know this and we do our best to fulfill that calling.  In different ways, we console and comfort.  Some of us are outgoing and energetic; always ready to give of our time and our company to others.  Some are quieter, praying quietly and sending cards that are like the very voice of God spoken just in time.  Maybe we make cookies, maybe we help with physical chores...there are endless ways we embody the Lord to those who need the touch of flesh.

And then; there are times when only the consoling presence of the Holy Spirit can carry us through.  It's when I fail to reach out beyond the limited abilities of man to seek his perfect comfort that I lose heart.  In my deepest hurt, I need to close myself in with Jesus and let him fill my spirit with grace and peace.  If not, those wounds would quickly become filled with scars of bitterness and hopelessness.  How often do we fail to recognize the very basic need of our mortal hearts?  Lord, let me love them in spite of the pain.  Jesus, wash away this agony and give me your heart of forgiveness.  Save me, rescue me from this solitary place of pain.

God will never spare us entirely those days of darkness and desperation, it is in those moments that the wise become fully aware that he is all there is and he is fully sufficient.  For myself, I want to be so dependent on him that I instinctively rush to his side for the consolation that only he can give.  But I also want to always remember what it feels like to be hurt to my core so that, I will be a willing vessel to bring consolation to those who haven't yet learned the fullness of the Lord's love.



Sunday, November 10, 2013

Four gifts

While I am a firm believer in maintaining the holidays within a reasonable time period; I admit that it's taking all of the self-discipline in my little heart to delay Operation Christmas Decorations.  That's part of the fun of it, waiting waiting waiting.
On the other hand, there are those who dread the holidays.  On FB, someone posted something along the lines of "Give me a break from the Christmas decorations and music, let's make it through Thanksgiving first." There were lots of amens in the comments of that particular post.  I don't really disagree but it got me thinking about people who feel overwhelmed and uninspired where the holiday season is concerned.  I've been that person.  Sure, I've always enjoyed the beauty of decorations and lights.  But stresses come along with the season as well.  Money, expectations, time and maybe just not being that person who seems to do it all beautifully.  Another dear friend posts pictures of these cookies she makes that make me ashamed to serve the lumpy bumpy oatmeal raisins that come out of my oven!  So I thought, maybe we could put our heads together and share our amazing decorations and recipes but also; ways to make the season wonderful and perhaps, a little easier if you aren't Martha Stewart with a money tree growing in your own personal Christmas garden.
I'll start with an idea I mentioned in yesterday's  The Mr. is from the school of buy all you can with every penny you have until the stores close.  Bless his heart, this comes from wanting to recreate his own happy childhood Christmases for our kids.  But seriously, the result is year after year of items that are never looked at again once they are opened on Christmas morning.  Last year I cleaned under Mac's bed and found Christmas gifts of Jay's that he simply never took home and never missed. This year, we're following an idea I saw on the internet (where, I don't recall.)  Four gifts, four categories...
Something I want; something I need; something to wear; something to read.
Mac asked that his something to read be replaced with something to eat, dork!
I thought this was brilliant!  Believe me, if one of us needed a pile of 20 gifts, we'd make it happen.  But we're blessed, we don't need, well, anything!  Isn't that wonderful?  Four gifts.
What I really love are the conversations that are happening around this idea.  For instance, Mac's something I need?  Pens and pencils for school.  I don't know why but that blessed my heart, so simple and sweet.  Everyone is making a list with the four categories and mind and we've identified a total budget.  That's another great thing about the idea, you can do it for $20 or $2,000.  You can shop in a dollar store or a department store.
Ideas for something to read if you have nonreaders in your life?  Recipes or cookbooks; inspirational quotes or Wallwords; a coffee cup with something fun on it or even a letter telling them what they mean to you.  Of course, a Bible is always a great gift-even for those who don't read as a hobby.  A fridge magnet!  Text books for college students.  A Bronner's name ornament.  Then again, for those Readers amongst us; the possibilities are endless. Especially for children, what a great way to start a library!
Something to wear could be a mink coat or a pair of mittens.
Although I doubt the Mr. would've cooperated, I kind of wish we'd done this since the kids were small.
And if you aren't quite ready to let go of the mountain of gifts, this is also a cool idea for stocking stuffers.
Four gifts-no more, no less.
Love it.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Thanksgiving is almost here!

The much anticipated Thanksgiving tree is sparkling away in my living room!  I won't say it's complete as I have a few more ideas to add.  I would love to reprint some old family photographs in sepia tones and nestle them into the branches.  Maybe some raffia?  Either way, I am absolutely enjoying my Thanksgiving tree!  The quilt you see underneath it was made by my great grandmother and the writing in the white border is her "signature."
The holidays will have a different budget this year so we're trying something I saw on the Internet.  Everyone will receive four gifts, no more and no less.  One each of the following:  something I want, something I need, something to wear, something to read.  We have established a total budget for all four items and everyone will make a list of ideas.  Santa will, naturally, still fill our stockings with fun odds and ends.
Our holiday finances are a result of a great blessing; the change in my job.  I rarely work five days a week any longer and consider this such an amazing fact that I still can't believe it's true.  The ladies of the family have scheduled a Monday cookie baking day during which we shall bake our brains out and watch Christmas movies like White Christmas and Holiday in and The Bishop's Wife.  We'll have brunch together and all plan on wearing yoga pants so that we can test our products.
I'm scheduling myself off the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, have Thanksgiving off and I'm not working the Friday after either!  This is the first time in ten years I'll have those days off.  And don't even get me started on the week between Christmas and New Years!  Okay, get me started, I'm taking that off too!  So you understand why there's not quite so many dollars at our fingertips.  And why I don't mind one bit.
We'll have Thanksgiving dinner at my parent's house.  A few days later, we're all gathering there again to deck their halls and trim their tree.  Oh, and there's a Motown Review Christmas show at my sister's church on the calendar.  Christmas Eve with Mexican food here for daboyz and us and Christmas dinner with everyone at our house.
Yup!  I'm definitely excited about the celebrations that are about to begin.  All of them, honoring the Christ Child who came to die on my behalf and rose to breathe eternal life into my soul.  What better way to express the joy of Jesus than to embrace every moment that we can!

Monday, November 04, 2013

A wish for myself; more energy

Before I bare my soul; I'm going to ask you to withhold any comments you may be tempted to provide with advice about exercise, diet, vitamin regimes, etc.  I know the benefits, I also know myself and what is true for me.  Deal? 
So in the spirit of self-indulgence, I have a wish for me.  I wish I was a more energetic person.  I have never been a person with physical stamina, not even as a child.  I have forever awakened in the morning with stiff and sore muscles.  I've always become achy after yard work or a day at the beach or any other exertion.  Even in high school, I'd be worn out after work.  To this day, I'm all in, as my grampa used to say, after eight hours. 
I'm an early to bed, early to rise kind of girl.
When I'm out late, I start to feel actually ill.  I get headachy, sore throaty and sore.  My feet hurt most days.  In case you are doing an inventory of possible medical issues; I do have chronic Epstein Barre but my body has always been this way.  And I'm not really complaining.  I'm not a southern belle fainting upon my chaise and in need of smelling salts and some standing over me to fan me with a giant palm leaf. 
I'm just not physically strong. The real problem is, other people are more bothered by this than I am.  Had I been born in a different generation, I don't think there would be a problem at all.  I, however, was born in a time when women work full time and then are expected to participate in small groups (if you are involved in many churches,) work out, go out for coffee, on and on and on.  Back in the olden days of the 1990s, I was a homemaker.  In those days, I did meet up with girlfriends for a cup of coffee mid morning or window shopping with my mom.  We even, occasionally, went out for dinner with other couples!  But now?  I work and I keep my house and then, I'm all in.  I'm really ok with being all in, but it makes me all out; socially at least.  Again, I'm fine with that too!  Being an introvert works well in these cases.
Still, I wish, for myself, that I was a high energy person.  I wish I could do all of my housework and laundry on Saturday and still feel like going to dinner and a movie in the evening.  I wish I could come home from work at 6:00 and have the strength to do laundry so everything wasn't waiting for my attention on the weekend.  I wish my muscles weren't achy and my joints weren't stiff.  I wish I wish I wish...
I wish that more people would say it's okay, to be what I am.  On cranky days, I'd like to point out that while I am not a fireball of energy my house is neat and my laundry done and I work hard for my employer.  And that should be good enough. 
And on non cranky days, like today, I have learned to be okay with what I am and that's good enough.  I'm thankful for the friends in my life who may not understand but still accept a largely online/texting relationship because I'm too pooped and introverted for much else. 
Since I've requested the advice commenters to hold off for today, I'm going to make another request.  Only if you're comfortable.  Is there anything about yourself that isn't quite up to the standard of others that you wish were different or, that you've learned to accept? 
Now, I'm going to relax with a book and refuel.  'Cause that's just how I am.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Rambling thoughts on a Saturday morning~

(Not, not mine.  But how cute is this?)
1.  Trying to talk the Mr. in to putting up our smaller tree and decorating it for Thanksgiving.
2.  Remembering a kid in a special ed class that I used to work with who said, "Thanksforgiving."  Ha!
3.  Got my housework done yesterday, just need to sweep the floor this morning.
4.  Making a pot of the Olive Garden soup that's showing up on everyone's FB.  The Mr. made it while I was recovering from surgery last year, it's soooo good.
5.  I'm planning on starting my Christmas shopping next week, things are going to be seriously scaled down this year with my new income and that's ok.
6.  Last week we had to postpone going out to dinner for our anniversary because the Mr. wasn't feeling well, might try again this evening.
7.  I ordered red and green plaid curtains for my bathroom for Christmas and they arrived yesterday; so cute!
8.  Also on the weekend's menu, a batch of Snicker Doodles.
9.  I love my little house, but I'd love it more with a bigger bathroom and larger closets.
10.  I also love early mornings when I'm the only one awake.


Friday, November 01, 2013

I need a little Christmas...right this very minute!

I always adhere to the no decorations until after Thanksgiving rule, but this year, my resolve is being tried!  I'm so anxious for the holiday season!  It doesn't help that I found some adorable little curtains on clearance in red and green plaid for my bathroom.  AND a deep red comforter (also on clearance) for my pistachio green bedroom.  I even put Christmas music on while I was in the yard last weekend!  I absolutely believe that keeping the season limited is what makes it special, the waiting and sweet anticipation is part of the fun.  It's taking all of the self discipline I have not to just put up my smaller tree in the living room this weekend.  I keep telling myself, I could put it up with the lights and a few little autumn leaves in the branches and it's a Thanksgiving tree!  Right?  I can't promise that won't happen.
When do you start your Christmas decorating?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Home alone~

On Monday, I was home with a bit of a cold and one of my absolute favorite things happened...I was alone.  I love being home alone.  The Mr. was at work and Mac was off with his girl for the day and it was just me in my little house all alone.
Ahhhh.  Lovely.
I didn't feel well enough for doing anything productive, didn't even feel like reading (made my head hurt.)  I just sipped hot cups of tea with lots of honey and looked around my house and sort of drank it in; the tea and my surroundings.  I didn't turn on the television or the radio or play music.  All of the kids and adults in the neighborhood must have been otherwise occupied with school and work because it was blessedly quiet.  Just the wind in the trees, the wind chimes on the garage and sweet sweet peace. 
On days like this, if I listen closely, I can even hear the train whistle from Greenfield Village. 
I feel a bit sorry for people who crave something to do, or to see or to hear.  I've learned to feel quite blessed that I don't get bored very often.  Even though I had a sore throat and a headache, it was such a nice day, really.  Just home alone.
And happy.

Monday, October 28, 2013

What, me worry?

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 
Colossians 3:3

A few days ago; I almost started worrying. Worrying about the president and his vision for this nation. Worried on a much more personal level, about my kids and their futures in this country. I don't think there will be a miraculous turning around, frankly. The Bible doesn't indicate that there will be a reversal in the progress of wickedness. So if I believe what I believe, our prayers will slow the progress of evil and our goal is to influence people toward a relationship with Jesus-the only relief that we'll ever know. Still, I live within a body of flesh and the limited mind of mortality (at least for now.) And so, sometimes, I start to worry.

Sometimes I wish that my kids were facing adulthood in a different era; one with clearer morals and principles. More wisdom, less "smart." Sometimes I think a little too hard and then very quickly, daily peace and joy can dissipate into not fear but sadness. Sadness for how sweet life was created to be and how bitterly we live it. So as I stood at my kitchen window absent-mindedly turning worry over in my hands like a piece of china, the Holy Spirit answered my unasked question. Should I worry?

"No. God has hidden them." God has hidden my children. Evil cannot find them, in His hiding place. It might brush past us and we will even catch the scent of it as it settles like a dark cloud. But truly, in the deepest places where the soul lives, we are hidden.

Obamacare (the latest worry,) will crumble if God so ordains. If not, the Lord will hide us. Laws will change to legitimize immorality only if God allows it and if He does, He will hide us from the fall-out. And so on.

Where will He hide us? In the moment, He hides us in our home and families. That's why it's so important to me to cling to the old-fashioned and the simple. More importantly, He hides us in eternity.

I've started to thank God for hiding my children. It has become my daily prayer, continue to hide us. Blind the enemy to us. Make us invisible, guard the small and simple things that fill our hearts with joy and peace.

This is not a prayer I pray "hopefully," it's one that bubbles up out of this new realization. We're hidden! Whew! Safe at home...


Sunday, October 27, 2013