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Christmas Dishes

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I was feeling a little melancholy the other day as I was fixing a day-after Thanksgiving meal for the 4 of us.  Now that the girls are getting older, holidays just feel different.   I miss the girls being little and wanting to spend time with me.   I miss the excitement of Santa and long toy lists and just the sheer giddiness that exudes from children this time of year.

As I was cooking dinner, my oldest came out of “hiding” (she spends lots of time in her room now) and she asked me about what sorts of traditions I did with my family as a kid.

Did you have lots of Christmas decorations when you were little?

I remembered the glass candle globes with holly berries around them that we placed on our coffee table and dining room table.  And we always hung mistletoe in the hallway.  And there were these Christmas dishes…

Wait a minute- you had Christmas dishes?  For some reason, that piqued her interest.

Actually, I have them somewhere in the garage packed away. 

And like that, my oldest daughter was a giddy child on a mission to find them.

I went to the garage with her, and we dug through several bins looking for them.  Lo and behold- we found the magic tub filled with the Christmas dishes.

“I can’t believe you never told us about these!”

I helped her bring the tub upstairs, and then I watched as she took out every piece and neatly stacked it on the kitchen counter.  She snapped a picture of the dishes to send to her friend. “It doesn’t take much to make me excited!” She grinned from ear to ear as she sent her friend a text with the picture of the treasure she found in the garage.

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Why have we never used these?!”  she asked me.

“I didn’t want to take the chance of breaking them when you girls were younger.”  And that was the honest truth.  I remember my aunt got us those dishes for Christmas when I was really young, and they were special to me.

I told her if she wanted us to use the dishes then she needed to hand wash all of them.  She happily obliged, and then she set the table for our day-after-Thanksgiving meal with our fancy Christmas dishes.

And as we ate together as a family that evening, I was filled with joy.  Something as simple as eating on a plate with a Christmas tree used to make me so excited as a kid!  Knowing that those same dishes brought the same joy to my daughter’s face that day overwhelmed my heart with gladness.

And just like that- something old that had been packed away years ago became new again…and a new family tradition has begun!

    Old things have disappeared, and look! all things have become new!            

     2 Corinthians 5:17

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just because

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don’t need a reason

don’t need a holiday

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don’t need a million dollars 

or a firework display

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don’t need much 

but one thing is true 

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it’s the little things 

that make me love you 

My hubby and I have never been big gift-givers.  He has surprised me with the occasional big gift for my birthday or Christmas, but really what means the most are the little things.

Like the other day.

We were walking through a store and there was an unusually large display of gorgeous roses.  While my daughter was admiring them,  I noticed my husband turn to look at the roses and he lingered for a moment…

“Babe, how about you pick out one of these bouquets?”

I love flowers.

I am also frugal.

And I know that flowers have a short shelf-life, which also makes me think that it’s not something I really need to spend money on…

But in that moment, God knew exactly what I needed.

Over that last week I allowed myself to feel like a failure… as a mom, as a wife… a failure at whatever it was that I was doing.  I convinced myself that I wasn’t good enough.  It was all in my head, but that little lie raged inside of me.  I tried to fight it all week.  I read scriptures,  prayed, did all the things I knew to do and yet it was still there and I couldn’t escape that feeling that I was worthless.

But in my husband’s eyes I was worthy of those flowers…just because he loves me. In fact, it meant more to me because it was spontaneous and not because it was a special occasion.

And this week, God has used those beautiful roses to remind me of His perfect love for me, too.  He is right on time, every time!  Every time I have walked into the living room, those roses have made me smile.

He loves me just because.  And so does my husband.

In fact, there isn’t anything I could do to make Him love me more!

He loves me for who I am in Him, not for what I do! 

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 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.    Ephesians 2:8-9

 

 

 

 

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adulting

My girls went back to school yesterday.

It brings me JOY.. and it also makes me a little bit sad.  I remember all those years I dreamed of having a baby, and in my own naiveté, I thought those toddler years would last forever.  But I blinked, and my girls have grown up overnight.

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We celebrated so many firsts when they were little… their first giggle, their first bite of real food, their first steps… then came their first days of school… losing their first teeth…

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And now those “firsts” are becoming fewer and farther between. With one in 7th grade, and the other in 9th grade, I had to literally beg them for a first-day-of-school picture.  Gone are the days of them running to give me hugs when they get off the school bus, or them wanting to tell me all about their day.  I feel them trying to pull away from me and it is hard.

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But this time at our back-to-school night, I witnessed another first… 

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My oldest, who normally hides behind me- afraid to speak to anyone;  she actually introduced herself to all of her teachers-  on her own! And then she even asked them important questions- like about testing and whether they accepted late work.  And for the first time, I watched her beam with confidence as she walked down the hallways, waving and smiling at her friends.

My oldest was adulting… and it was one of my proudest “mom” moments yet!  Those little girl days may be a fading memory, but growing up is a good thing!IMG_4676

When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.

1 Corinthians 13:11 

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pardon me, dude-

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Pardon me, dude-

I don’t mean to be

rude,

but I’m not

in the mood

for your

‘tude!

We had the most aMAZing week earlier this summer! The girls and I took a trip with our friends to Florida.  We went to Universal Studios Theme Park and it was absolutely fabulous!

If you know anything about my girls, you know that they are huge Harry Potter fanatics. So to say that their dreams came true is a slight understatement.  Harry Potter World at Universal did not disappoint- and even I was amazed!

But what I didn’t expect was how much fun we had in the Dr Seuss park! The lines were incredibly short and even I found my inner child as we rode the whimsical rides and listened to the wild rhymes of Dr Seuss.

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One night we were so tired that we couldn’t stop giggling.  You know how when you get overly tired how everything seems funny?  Well all of us girls were snuggled into the hotel beds, and I came up with that poem and I laughed so hard that I couldn’t even get it out.  I was trying to be serious, trying to get them to settle down and go to sleep, but even I couldn’t stop myself from laughing!

I am so thankful for that special week with my girls, and also for the reminder that you’re never too old to be a kid!fullsizeoutput_21f0

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10

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Oh my, oh golly-

how long it’s been

since I have seen

that number “10”

I’ll shout it from the roof tops,

I’ll say it again-

It’s the number 10

for the big WIN!

Remember my new year’s resolution to get  Lean in ’17?   I am happy to report that I’m still going strong!  In fact, I had the joyous experience of wearing a pair of size 10 jeans today!  I haven’t worn a size 10 in over 10 years!  Praise the Lord!  And more importantly- I’m feeling groovy!

I bet you’re humming that old classic Simon and Garfunkel song now, aren’t you 😉

As I got ready to leave the house yesterday, I went tell my hubby my good news-

“Babe!  Guess what?!  I am wearing a SIZE 10!  Can you believe it?!”

He lovingly smiled and said-

“You’ve always been a perfect 10 to me!”

Husbands, love your wives, 

just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her- Ephesians 5:25

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remember the “green lights”

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I began dating my husband when I was 17 years old.  We worked together at a movie rental place inside of a grocery store for about a year before he asked me out on our first date.

My parents had recently separated and I was a little bit jaded about the whole idea of  marriage, and what a happy family should looked like.  I met my husband’s parents early on in our relationship and I remember wondering why they were so happy all the time!

I spent lots of time at my husband’s family’s house that first year we dated.  So much time, that it was pretty much assumed that I was going to be there for dinner every night.  My  (future) in-laws frequently brought home a Wendy’s frosty for me- knowing how much I loved ice cream.

One afternoon I was riding with my (future) mother-in-law to get ice cream.  I clearly remember the light turning green and hearing her say Thank you, Lord.

In my mind I remember thinking that was a little bit over-the-top.  Really?!  Who thanks the Lord for the light changing to green?  But in reality, I wasn’t thankful for much of anything  during that time in my life.  I felt sorry for myself for lots of reasons and I was completely oblivious to all of the many blessings I had to be thankful for.

But praise the Lord- years later, somewhere in my misery, God’s grace found me.  He opened my eyes and He came into my heart.  I am so thankful for how my husband’s parents have selflessly loved me with a Christ-like love all these years.  And over the years, I realized the source for their happiness- it’s simply the JOY of the Lord!

I once was lost, but now I’m found

was blind but now I see 

Whenever I feel myself begin to slip into that bottomless pit of self-pity, I think of my mother-in-law and how she praised the Lord for something as simple as the green light that day.

When we begin to thanking Him for the little things- we realize just how much we have to be thankful for! 

And just as my wise father-in-law says- “give God all the glory- even when you think He doesn’t deserve it…  because He does!” 

Be thankful in all circumstances-  1 Thessalonians 5:18

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crayons and markers

 

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like crayons and markers 

I watched as she drew 

outlined and shadowed 

but before she was through- 

she’d say look this way- 

and with special care 

she’d dab a little here 

and she’d dab a little there- 

transforming me into 

a queen for a day 

how I loved it when

Grandmother 

came to play! 

Today I was thinking about my Grandmother and remembering all the times she used to travel to visit us.  We didn’t see her often- maybe a couple of times a year, but she was a true southern belle and I loved her dearly!  She passed away just a few years after I got married.  As I was putting on my moisturizer this morning, I remembered something special she used to do with us…

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Grandmother kept her make-up in something like this

 

 

 

 

One of the things I loved most when Grandmother came to visit is when she would put her make-up on in the morning.  She would sit on the couch and lay out all of her makeup on the coffee table. And if my sister and I were sitting with her, she would include us in her beauty ritual.  We would carefully watch her apply her blue eye-shadow, and then it was our turn!

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I kept my make-up in one of these! 

She’d lean over and swipe the blue shadows on our lids.  And then she’d dab a little bit of mascara on our lashes, and then we’d pick a shade of lipstick.  A little puff of nude powder dusted on our faces, and we were all dolled up!  I remember thinking- oh just wait till my friends see me like this! 

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Her favorite powder…White Shoulders 

And then I’d go outside to see our friends who lived next door, and I’d wait for them to notice something different about me.  Inside, I felt like a beauty queen, but the funny thing was that to them- I didn’t look any different!

It is amazing how a little extra attention from someone you love can transform your own thoughts about yourself.

 I am so thankful for those memories-

and for how special and loved my Grandmother always made me feel!

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment such as braided hair or gold jewelry or fine clothes, but from the inner disposition of your heart, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in God’s sight. 

1 Peter 3:4

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a home-cooked meal

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Cooking is something I have never really enjoyed, but eating– that’s a whole different ball game! I love food! And I have gotten much better at meal planning and cooking lately.  But these summer days seem to be even busier for me than the school year.

After running around all day, my youngest daughter asked me what we were going to have for dinner-

“Come here”, I told her.  “I have something really important to tell you…”

Actually, I was in the middle of practicing one of the saddest songs I have ever heard, trying to learn it to sing at an upcoming funeral- and I was choking back tears as she called to me from the other room.

I wanted to have this super sappy conversation with her.  I wanted to hug her tight and tell her how much I loved her and that I didn’t ever want her to get big and leave home- but I didn’t.

“I have been meaning to tell you this,” I said in my most serious voice.   “Dinner is cancelled.  We won’t be having dinner tonight.” I said with a deadpan expression on my face.

“Mom!” she smiled at me and rolled her eyes.

“I think I’m going to make quesadillas… or maybe spaghetti?”  Dinner of champions! Those are my easy go-to meals when I don’t wanna think about meal prep.

“But Mom- you NEVER make us a home-cooked meal anymore! Never!  All I want is to order pizza!  Please?  Pretty please?!”

I burst out laughing.

Because ordering pizza is definitely not a home-cooked meal!

But that night pizza seemed perfect.

And in that moment I realized how incredibly blessed I am.

I have two awesome daughters- who definitely do NOT expect perfectly home-cooked meals from me,

a hubby who loves me just as I am- and was equally in favor of pizza,

and a God who loves me infinitely more than I could ever comprehend.

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dream a little dream

 

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I woke up the other morning with JOY just flowing through my veins!  I mean, I was so excited, I couldn’t contain it!  I had the most amazing dream- it was one of those dreams that was so real, it was being in a movie!  I literally sat up in my bed and cheered- “Woohooo!!!”

The hubs was already awake, so I went into the living room to share the excitement with him, lol.

“Oh.My.GOODNESS!  I had the BEST dream EVER”, I tell my husband.

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Now, mind you, he’s not a morning person… so he smiled and said not now.  Go write it down and tell me all about it later.  He handed me a few pieces of paper from the printer and a pen and I sat down and tried to write fast enough to capture all the juicy details.

About 10 minutes later, he turned around to me and said are you STILL writing?!

Yep!  Almost done!

I won’t bore you with all the nitty-gritty details of my dream, but the main focus was that I had found something special that belonged to a stranger.  I tracked down the stranger and was about to give them this item, and then I lost it while I was in the mall.  I prayed and prayed that I would find it, and I had all sorts of shoppers and salespeople looking for it.

I remember the feeling of expectation I had in the dream- I just KNEW I was going to find this thing!  And sure enough, I did!  I was so overjoyed that I jumped up and down and raised both arms in the air and shouted “Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord!”

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And that’s how I woke up that morning!  I was on cloud nine!  I wanted to jump up and down and tell the whole world how much I loved the Lord.

But the coolest thing happened to me that day-  I had that feeling of joy inside me ALL DAY LONG! I started thinking about how awesome it would be to wake up praising the Lord like that EVERY DAY- simply because we have another day to enjoy life!

Life’s all about perspective.

How different our lives would be if we saw every moment as an opportunity to praise the Lord!

I will praise the Lord at all times.
    I will constantly speak his praises.  Psalm 34

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lean on me

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The heavens unleashed a downpour around us as the girls and I sat waiting in the drive-thru line.  We were at Chick-fil-a, where everything is their pleasure!  I just love that place!  Not only are they uber pleasant, but their food is always awesome.

Anyway, back to my story…

We were sitting there and a tan sedan was trying to pull in between myself and the car in front of me to park in the handicap spot on the other side of my van.  I watched the car slowly pull into the space and park.  The gentleman took his time getting out of the car.

In the pouring rain, he opened the car door and tried to steady his wobbly feet.  My best guess was that he must have been in his late ’70’s or early ’80’s.  He slowly shuffled down the side of his car to the trunk.  The girls and I were quite curious as to what he was doing.  He was taking his time and the rain was really coming down hard at this point!  As we continued to pull forward in line, we turned to see what he was up to.

We watched him carefully take out a walker as he slowly shut the trunk of his car.  He pushed it to the other side and that’s when we saw him open the passenger side. There sat a beautiful lady, all dolled-up for a day out with her husband.  He took her hand and she turned and placed her own wobbly feet on the ground.  He helped her stand and handed her the walker.

I had tears as I watched this man stand in the pouring rain, holding the door for this lady and helping her to her feet.

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That’s what love is all about! I said to my girls through my tears.  Always putting your spouse first, because that’s what honors the Lord.  

We watched her maneuver the walker so that she could slide up the handicap ramp, and I watched as he rested his arm around her.

I thought to myself- doesn’t he need his own walker? And then I started to cry as I realized

he was leaning on her.

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Well a man shall leave his mother and a woman leave her home
They shall travel on to where the two shall be as one
As it was in the beginning, is now until the end
Woman draws her life from man and gives it back again
And there’s love
“There is love”- Noel Paul Stookey

 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

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