Monday

Holiday Hangover

Here it is just a few days after Christmas and I’ve done it again: I’m suffering from yet another holiday hangover. Not the kind that comes from indulging in too much alcohol, though the fit of my pants indicates that overindulgence of something needs to be addressed. I have the kind of holiday hangover you get from overspending, overeating, overscheduling, and overdoing.

Every year I start the season with a deep resolve and an optimistic plan. I will budget for Christmas for several months so that my family will not be eating lint-covered Christmas candy from the bottom of our stockings as a meal by mid-January. I will deck the halls in manageable stages so that I am not getting out the last of the decorations on December 24 to put away on December 26. I will limit our family’s activities so that when it comes time to distribute the gifts on Christmas morning we still recognize each other. Those are always the plans. Then I wake up, it’s December 26, and this Christmas season has looked like all of the others.

It’s the expense of Christmas that gets me every year. The postage for the Christmas cards, the ‘one last’ decoration we need, the ‘little gifts’ that add up and add up, even the food we consume this time of year seems to total a staggering amount. Then my children are out of school and expect to eat during the day. What’s that about? I bought them Christmas gifts, they expect me to feed them, as well? And wouldn’t it be a lovely Christmas outing for us to go to the movies together as a family? Kids, I hope you learned something, because we just spent your first year of college on a two hour movie and one tub of popcorn. Then don’t forget that gasoline is at an all-time high. Perfect time for a 1,000 mile trip, isn’t it?
I try not to resent the overwhelming total of this time of year. It is completely within my power to change what my family spends and every year I have grand intentions of doing just that. But I seem to simply take the path of least resistance and most expense, and then gripe about it.

So here it is the limbo-week between Christmas and New Year’s -- time to look back and look forward. I have a moment to slow down and evaluate. Financial folks will tell you it’s time to make an end of year evaluation of your finances. Once I’ve found all the spare change in the couch, I’m through with that exercise. It’s also a good time to take an overall life evaluation. Is what I’m living reflecting what I say I believe?

My thoughts turn to the expense of the season. I look back and count the outrageous cost of this holiday. I repent of my extravagance as I think about the original cost of this holiday: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,…” (John 3:16a) I sprinkle the financial blessings God has given me on various things throughout this season, but God gave all He had for the season. He allowed his only child to leave his heavenly home and come to this flawed world. He did that so “…that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16b) Amazing.

I look toward 2008 with a grateful heart. Thankful for another day, possibly another year, to live a life of gratitude, possibly a life of moderation, and share His blessings with the people He puts in my path.

Sunday

Miscellaneous

Sitemeter tells me not too many folks peruse the ol' blog during the Christmas holidays. Maybe it's because the ol' gal doesn't update the blog too much during the Christmas holidays.

I had grand plans of putting away Christmas this afternoon. I got an iphone instead. I've been playing with it all afternoon. Love it, love it, love it.

Blog family, meet jd (commenter from last post): jd will be the preacher at the church where my parents worship in Louisiana. Denise, he's a 'LOST' fan. And, oh my stars, he THINKS about it. Yikes! You have got to check out some of his latest posts about 'LOST'! Way cool.

I wanted to post this song weeks ago when I first heard it, but I knew it would cause my dad to leap from his chair and go purchase the CD. Since I had already leapt from my chair to buy the CD for my dad, I had to wait to post this! This is the type of music that someone who shall not be named said, "I can't stand that cr*p." So, if you remember making that statement, you may not want to play this. But, oh. my. stars. These lyrics make me weep and hit my knees. I'm not crazy about the solo, but it's mercifully only 2 lines long.


Thursday

So.....?

I've never revisited my "Is self pity a sin?" blog. Great thoughts and comments all the way around. I did notice that I don't think anyone came out and said, "Yes, it's a sin." But I do. My friend and I decided that self-pity -- like any other 'self-anything' -- is a form of idolatry. Even if it's hating your place in life, your circumstances, your situation, to spend your energy on being sad for yourself about it is allowing yourself, your circumstances and your situation to become more important than the One who created yourself, your circumstances and your situation.

We also discussed that it goes against Paul's admonition to "give thanks in all circumstances", and we can all debate whether or not Paul's directions to the Thessalonians is a direction for us and whether or not it's a sin to NOT do that (careful -- he also tells us to 'be joyful always' in the same sentence)! Just thoughts.

As far as the "fleeting thoughts" that come in and out: first, I whole-heartedly agree that God understands when we do question our place in life. He listened to quite a bit of moaning from Job before he finally said, (my paraphrase): "Listen up! If you know the way things should go, then lay it on me!" Or, more accurately:

Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. "Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? Job 38:3-5

That brings me to one of my all-time favorite phrases, that my friend, Beverly, said many years ago. "You must prepare in the light for when the darkness comes." Which always makes me think of a story from even MORE years ago:

My mom taught college, and through the years had her share of "non-traditional" aged college students: older students juggling family, marriage, and sometimes other jobs. One such lady got a call from the babysitter while she was in class: she couldn't get the baby to wake up and was taking her to 'xyz' hospital, that, as I remember it, was quite a few miles away from the college. By the time the young mother walked into the hospital, the doctors could tell her that, they were very sorry, but the baby had likely died of SIDS long before she even got to the hospital. What would her reaction be? The dramatic screaming of "no, no, no" that we would imagine? The "not my baby" indignation? Nope.

Her FIRST words upon hearing about the death of her baby were, "Jesus, I trust you." This happened while I was in high school, well over 20 years ago, and it obviously made a huge impression on me. We are sponges. What will come out when you are pressed from every side? Well, what you have put in will come out. Faith, hope, and trust in his word will ooze from your pores in a time of crisis if you have poured those things into your soul before the crisis. Prepare in the light for when the darkness comes.

The above is entirely Sarah's opinion and worth exactly what you paid for it.

Monday

Merry Christmas, Movie House!

They JUST finished singing "Auld Lang Syne" in "It's a Wonderful Life". The frozen rolls are in the bundt pan for the monkey bread for breakfast. The 'countdown plate' (a decorative plate that we write on with a dry erase marker) has been updated about 15 times today and is at mere hours until Santa finds our house. The children are nestled in their beds -- and probably texting their friends for a Santa spotting!

Some wonderful things out there:

Antique Mommy. Always genius. Loved this.

This inspired me like a news story has never done. What an amazing lesson that church learned and an amazing story about our gifts and talents.

I wish all of you a day full of His grace and peace.

I leave you with some of our Christmas pictures -- a sampling of what we have to work with any time we try to get a picture of Riley.








Saturday

A Think I'm Thinking

This morning someone (okay, the car-hop at Sonic) told me to "Have a blessed day." I really appreciate that sentiment, but I was thinking, "Sister, if I'm breathing, I'm blessed! Add a vehicle that runs and a Sonic Diet Coke and I don't know if I can stand the blessings! And the day I'm NOT breathing -- way better than any blessed day here on earth."

I didn't tell her all that, though. But I thought it!

Enjoy your blessed day!

Friday

Bunny Ears

Riley calls these "bunny ears". Youtube calls them "air quotes". No matter. We love them at my house. The kids and I got really tickled last night talking about using "bunny ears". Riley reminded Ashley of the first time she used them completely incorrectly. I don't remember it, but according to Riley, it was a little like Joey:


Wednesday

What Do You Think?

A friend asked what she thought was a question in passing -- but some things I just can't let go, you know. A good question gives you pause and many opportunities to think and consider. I think this question was a good question:

Is self-pity a sin?

We had a pretty good conversation about it and at some point I'll tell you where we landed. Until then, what do you think?

Tuesday

Roxanne and Harold

I'm letting Roxanne guest blog for me today/ tonight.

First, Roxanne tells you about our history together, as well as shows some hilarious and incriminating pics here. She continues the story and shows more pics here.

All of the pics, including one of my own recent posts, make me wonder if I am involved in some chin-sharpening experiment unawares. That is one pointy chin. I digress. As always.

Roxanne goes into detail telling a story I've always known, because I've always known Harold. (and never, never, to his face would I call him Harold and if you saw him, you would immediately refer to him as "Mr. xxx", as well -- an imposing figure, he is). But I've never walked through it quite so vividly. Roxanne, thank you for putting it down for us!

Seriously, you need to know this story:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Saturday

Could Be a Trauma

NOW someone in my family cares about the writer's strike. But not me. Real life is weird / funny/ tragic enough without the writers. But I would appreciate a well-written snappy comeback occasionally. And better background music.

Friday

A Magical Day

A local church gifts our school with a fairly large chunk of money every Christmas. The bulk of the money goes to buy Christmas gifts for some of our needier families, but a portion is put aside to "make a memory" for the children. Today was the day to make a memory.



We wore our pajamas, robes, and houseshoes. On a gray and drizzly day, we all (600 -- including about 20 severely handicapped children) loaded into school buses to travel to our local historic theater, the Paramount. We all piled in to jingling bells and watched "The Polar Express".



The little pajama-clad punkin's clapped when Santa's reindeers appeared. They cheered wildly when "the big man himself" appeared. They clapped when Santa presented the first gift of Christmas. And, of course, they clapped when the gift was returned.



We returned to school and had a grand afternoon. After school, pajama-clad teachers gathered in the cafeteria to wrap the gifts that were purchased with the rest of that money. We had a great time, making our own memory.



It was a magical day.

Wednesday

Christmas, Poppa Max Style

published in today's Abilene Families

As I consider the upcoming holidays, I would love to write an article about slowing down, enjoying this time of year, and remembering the reason for the season. The reality is that by the time this article is published I will be eating Tums as a regular meal, darting from one activity to another as a crazed woman with her hair aflame, and I will probably be on my way to a party that I resent needing to attend and coughing up money for a gift I didn’t exactly agree to give but am expected to contribute to. The rut is too deep, the habits too engrained, and I know myself too well. This will be a season of running and rushing and spending. So, instead of trying to take some things OUT of the season, I have decided to add TO the season.

As my family gathers this year for Christmas, there will be a very large hole. My grandfather, who we referred to as Poppa Max, finished his 90 years on this earth this year and is celebrating around the throne of Him whose birth we celebrate. My grandfather was a big man, in stature as well as personality. His absence this season will be tangible. So, to honor his memory, I have decided to add some things into my holiday season to make it Christmas, Poppa Max style:
1. I will take an active part in spreading some of the magic of the holidays. Not only was my grandfather a physically large man, he had an enormous bass voice. As our family gathered on Christmas Eve, he would make phone calls to some of our pre-school aged friends as Santa Claus. Many were left in speechless wonder. Maybe I will jingle some of Santa’s bells outside a doubting child’s bedroom window; maybe I will give some of my younger friends reindeer food for them to sprinkle on their lawn on Christmas Eve; maybe I will help Santa respond to some of his mail. I will do something to spread the magic of this season this year.
2. I will remember Christmas for “the least of these”. Under my grandparent’s tree, there was always a gift for a Down’s Syndrome gentleman that is my parents’ age that attends the same church. Sometimes a record, sometimes a new coloring book, it was always a very tiny something to let Mitchell know there was a family that loved him. I will look around and see folks that others may not notice and just let them know that there is someone that loves them.
3. I will give and give some more. Giving was not a holiday exercise for my grandfather, it was his attitude and way of life. I will give in secret throughout the year – just a little secret between my Poppa Max and me.
4. I will laugh and laugh loudly. With his enormous voice, Poppa Max also had a grand laugh that filled the room. During the holiday season, it came quite easily, so tickled was he to be surrounded by family. I will put aside spending concerns and scheduling conundrums at least once a day to laugh with my family. I will let them know that my joy in their presence cannot be contained and I must laugh.

I think we all look back at folks who have made Christmas magical and special for us in the past and are no longer with us to celebrate. May you find something in those memories to share with others, spreading the magic and laughing all the way.

Sunday

They Won! They Won!

Now, if this just doesn't beat all you ever saw!! Still waiting on my phone call to let me know ...!

Congratulations, Stephen and Tiffani -- give Bebo a hug for me!

Which Holiday Character Are You?



I'm a misfit? Oh, well, since I didn't know, at least I'm happy.

A (very) Little Politics

As you know, I generally steer away from politics around here -- I leave that to my "Deer Hunter in Shining Camo". But I'm going to make a prediction. I'm sure that leads you to think I'm VERY sure of my prediction. I'm not, but I'm fairly sure, and I don't mind being wrong. So, without any more clarification, here goes:

This country is not ready for Barak Obama as president. More than that, I don't think Oprah is ready to realize her influence isn't powerful enough to make it happen for him.

Saturday

Favorite Holiday Quotes Thus Far


The Christmas spirit is evidently slow in arriving at our house. I don't know if I take FULL responsibility for it, but I am certainly not helping. Nor is anyone else, evidently:


Ashley: When did decorating become so mandatory?


Troy, standing in a canyon created by towers of boxes of Christmas decorations evidently waiting to fling themselves to the appropriate spot in our home: I think we should go furniture shopping. What else are we going to do today?

Celebrity Look-A-Likes

The only thing I notice about all of these is that they all have pointy chins like me!

Wednesday

Because I Have No Blog Within Me

My husband did this. It makes me laugh hysterically.

Antique Mommy instructed us to read this. And she is right. And then she said my new favorite quote: "An exhortation to the sisters, be a fool for Christ, not Christmas - it doesn’t honor Him." Don't you see why I like to pretend that she is my BFF?

Riley is on crutches and in a cast. Let me tell you a little story about what happened -- or at least the part that I am clear about:

"Once upon a time there was a 6 foot wooden fence and a 10 year old little boy. The end."

He ended up in the ER last week while Troy was out of town and has made a grand tour of doctor's offices and medical supply places and finally ended up with a lovely ACU purple cast that now matches his foot. Meanwhile, I have spent the past 7 days suppressing my gag reflex as I deal with swelling, bruising, fracture, tendons, floating bone pieces (double-erp), fracture boots, cast, and crutches. And last night Ashley played all of one minute of her pre-season basketball tournament game before she was trampled by the mob and left the court with a twisted ankle. Anyone know of an orthopedist that has a punch card where you get your 12th visit free? All in all, we're doing great and on the mend. I said yesterday -- just a little grit on the contact lens of life; and yet another opportunity to bow in gratitude at the amazing health that all of my family regularly enjoys.

Tammy took some pics today and Riley was hanging out. She captured the moment as she always does:




 
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