I Got a Robe

I got a robe for Christmas.

If you watch SNL, you will laugh at that. They did a parody video a few years back about how everyone else in the family gets all these awesome gifts, and the mom gets a robe. Why? Because most of the time moms are the one that do the majority of the shopping and cooking and planning for the holidays!

But the funny thing was that I actually DID ask for a robe. My husband bought me a robe for Christmas the first year we were dating. It was a super plush, red, terrycloth robe from Victorias Secret. That thing was indestructible! Can you believe that I have worn this robe for… drum roll….. 27 years?! That is just insane. Mainly because I can’t possibly be that old.

But anyway, I figured after 27 years, it was time to retire the robe for a new one.

But really, the best gift was not under the tree. (and I know, I know… the best gift is Jesus)

But the OTHER best gift (besides Jesus) was spending time with my family. We got to see *almost* our entire family this year and it was great! And then after Christmas, my hubby and the girls and I always go out to have brunch and then the girls and I go shopping. I never knew how much joy it would bring me to spend time having fun with my girls as they have gotten older. As they have gotten older, we are able to enjoy each other’s company, laugh together, shop together, and our shopping excursions would not be complete without a Starbucks coffee run!

The greatest gift for me isn’t the presents. It’s ALL about being in the presence of the people I love.

I am thankful.

In your presence there is fullness of joy- Psalm 16:11

Right Here Waiting For Food

My husband and I were inspired to write a song parody about our dogs and their love affair for food.  From the moment I wake up they are following me around, waiting for their next meal.  I think if you have a fur baby, you can relate 😉 Hope you enjoy!

“Right Here Waiting For Food”

Doorways apart night after night
And I slowly starve to death
You open the door and let me in
I greet you with my morning breath

If you don’t feed me Mama
There will be lots of drama

Wherever you go
Whatever you do
I will be right here waiting for food
Whatever you eat
What falls at your feet
I will be right here waiting for food

I took for granted all the times
That my bowl was filled to the brim
But now it’s empty and I know
That I’ll never eat again

Oh can’t you see my hunger
I’m not getting any younger

Wherever you go
Whatever you do
I will be right here waiting for food
Whatever you eat
What falls at your feet
I will be right here waiting for food

I don’t know how I can survive
This ordeal
But I’m gonna bark at you ’till I
get my next meal

Wherever you go
Whatever you do
I will be right here waiting for food
Whatever you eat
What falls at your feet
I will be right here waiting for food

*and my apologies to Richard Marx for ruining his song, because I’ll never ever hear it the same way again, lol!!

 

expectations

in my head 

I plan ahead 

and hope that 

all works out 

until the dread 

when those best laid

plans just don’t

 pan out 

It’s no secret that I get excited easily- and it doesn’t take much!   But I am finding that being excited takes a great deal of energy.  And if whatever I’m excited about falls through, or doesn’t happen the way I expect- it is a huge emotional drain for me.

But I’m learning how to better manage this.

Because my expectations are actually limitations… because maybe the thing I was expecting is not what God is directing to happen! 

Like Thanksgiving…

I think holidays can be a huge let-down. We have this expectation of how we are supposed to celebrate- all our extended family gathered around a table.  Singing carols, sharing stories.  Happy and full of joy.  It doesn’t help that we have all of our acquaintances and friends on social media posting all of their camera worthy moments (me included!)- which just puts even more pressure on everyone to have the perfect day!

But my hubby woke up under the weather on Thanksgiving. We were supposed to travel to see both of our families, but he called his family and made the decision to stay home.  I knew it would be a huge let down for us all to stay home, so I drove with the girls to see his family and then to have dinner with my family.  It’s about a 3 hour drive each way.

After a fabulous dinner at my sister’s house, we started the drive home.  Those 3 hours took forever.

All day I felt like I was missing something, and I couldn’t wait to be home.

As the girls and I pulled into the driveway, I saw the happiest sight.  My hubby’s face was pressed against the window, waiting for us.

I was so happy to be home!  And even better was how happy my hubby was to see all of us!

If he hadn’t stayed home, I wouldn’t have had that sweet homecoming- and I wouldn’t have experienced the feeling of missing my hubby all day.

In the words of an old hair-spray band song by Cinderella-

“You don’t know what you’ve got ’till it’s gone.”

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The After-Christmas

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Our new additions to the tree… new ornaments are always a favorite!!

Maybe I’ll keep on Christmas-ing

do you think anyone would know?

If the lights keep shining on the inside

will my outsides be aglow?

while everyone de-decorates

I feel a bit of gloom

cause deep down in my heart

for CHRISTmas- there’s still room…

One of my FAVORITE parts of Christmas is the “after- Christmas” that happens when we visit all our extended family, reminding me that Christmas is not reserved for one day, it is Christmas anywhere and everywhere He is with us!

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Being silly together is always my favorite!!

And one of my very favorite gifts I receive every year is not one that’s wrapped.  It’s spending time with my family…

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what photo is complete without bunny ears?!

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And my Christmas is not complete without a “selfie” with my mom and sister…

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Me, Mom and my Sissy

So we sat together.  And each of us struck up our best pose…

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and with every snap… NO!  Not that one! lol… I have never been photogenic.

For fun, my hubby took a picture of my sister’s husband taking a picture of me taking a selfie of all of us.

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And a picture just doesn’t capture the depth of the silliness of the moment.  The joy of laughing with my mom and sister- those are moments I always treasure 🙂

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My lovely momma 🙂

So even though we put away our tree and all the trimmings today, it’s still Christmas for me. I’m keeping my nativity set on my piano, and I’ll keep on playing those favorite Christmas songs for a little while longer…

 “Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”

– Laura Ingalls Wilder

Living for NOW

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Looking for the perfect Christmas ham, I ventured into a high quality food store- only to be shocked by the extreme prices of their meat!  Why, I could buy an entire week’s worth of groceries for the price of one of those fancy hams! So I went to store #2 -and much to my dismay there were no hams.

I got everything else I could find from my list and found my way to the check-out line.  The store was so crowded, I couldn’t go anywhere- I was stuck in the farthest check-out line, which also happened to be the longest one. Sigh

“Are you trying to get past me?”  the lady ahead of me in line asked me.

“Oh no, just waiting in line… I love your coat, by the way!  It’s so festive!” When she turned, I noticed how beautiful she was- she wore a cranberry colored coat with ruffles down the front and a silver scarf around her neck that made her salt and pepper hair shimmer.  Her eyes were sky-blue and her face glowed.  I felt an instant connection to her.

She gave me a half smile and admitted that she had bought it a long time ago, and that it used to be big on her. With tears in her eyes, she confessed that she had looked in the mirror that morning and was disgusted with herself- for the weight she had gained and for how she looked.

“And the crazy thing is that this was my dream… when I was a young girl, I was tall and skinny- when it was so “in” to be plump.  I wanted to be plump and curvy when I grew up! Now that I am living my “dream”, I want more than anything to be that skinny girl again.”

She spoke with tears in her eyes, and I found it so ironic that this gorgeous woman (who, by the way, was NOT overweight at all…and was stunningly beautiful) did not recognize the beauty that was so easy for me to see.

“Oh my goodness!  You are beautiful just the way you are!” I said to her.

We hugged one another, as she poured her heart out to me- right there in the grocery check-out line.

Then, with determination, she exclaimed that she was going to live for the now…and that she was going to stop lamenting over who she was, or who she wanted to be. We talked about how blessed we both were.  To have good health, a family, clothing… to be able to buy the food that was in our shopping carts. I told her of how I was searching for the perfect Christmas ham, but hadn’t been able to find one that was reasonably priced.

“You know, I have a friend that owns a butcher shop.  I will give you her phone number when I get out to the car!  That is where I go to buy all of my meat these days!”

Both of us had left our phones in the car. I told her where my next stop was- just across the street.  She said that was her next stop, too.

“I’ll see you there, and I will give you her phone number!”

I felt an immediate connection to this lady.  It was like God put her there to just give me that message-

live for NOW… not yesterday, not tomorrow… NOW! 

I got my groceries, put them into the car, and headed to my next stop.

I searched up and down the meat aisles looking for a ham, and watching for my new friend and her festive cranberry coat to come waltzing through the door…

And just when I had lost all hope of finding a ham, I found an entire aisle of them- perfectly pre-baked honey-glazed-to-perfection hams at a fraction of the price of the first ones I had found!

I never saw that lady again, but I will never forget her honest, earnest words- and how she said to me the exact thing I needed to hear-

live for Now… not yesterday, not tomorrow… NOW!

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  

Matthew 6:34

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Just one more day

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My oldest daughter and I

 Just one more day

to snuggle up close

just one more day

with those I love most

Just one more day

to savor the season

Just one more day

to remember the reason

Just one more day

to take it slow

Just one more day

to bask in the glow

Just one more day

ok- maybe two...

who says the “holiday”

season is through?!

How many times have you wished that something could last just one more day?

I confess that I get the “Christmas blues” after the holidays end. Just a few weeks ago, my mom called me and said “You remember how you used to cry every Christmas?”  Yep.  Sure do.  Thanks for the reminder, Mom!

I remember many Christmas mornings when I was a child,  we’d open presents and there would be one last gift to open… and then the floodgates would come.  So much build up to this one morning- and then it was over before we knew it.

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My youngest daughter… all smiles!

But the saddest day ever for me was New Year’s Day.  This was the day we always took down our tree and put the house back in order.  When I think about New Years’s Day, the sound of the vacuum cleaner comes to mind.  And tears- lots of them.  Mainly because I didn’t want to go back to school the next day.

So I always wait to take the tree down until after the girls go back to school.  In fact, I managed to leave it up until the middle of January last year.  Today was going to be the day… until both girls were feeling under the weather and ended up staying home from school.

It was like a mini extension of the Christmas break!  Since the girls were not feeling well, they were so sweet to one another. But imagine my surprise when my youngest came to me in tears this afternoon-

“Momma- what if I missed something special today?  I miss my friends. I really wish I could go to school.”  She cried earnest tears and wanted nothing more than to be with all her friends.

And then my oldest says, “Oh, and by the way, Mom- it’s time.”

“Time for what?” I asked her.

“Umm… the tree, Momma.  You said you were going to take it down today.”

“Well, that’s because I thought you girls were going to be in school.  I am waiting to do it until you all are back in school.”

Our conversation this afternoon reminded me how much my own childhood plays a part in everything I do- or don’t do- with my children.  All this time I have felt like I was “saving” them from the sadness of getting everything back to normal… and here they are begging for it to happen.

So, my “one more day” of having the decorations up seems to have had nothing to do with the girls at all. It’s all about me – not wanting to hear that vacuum running. It’s about me not wanting to go back to school- which I absolutely dreaded with every fiber of my being. I would have done anything to have stayed home just one more day.

I am thankful for God’s grace that allows those memories to soften through the years, and that thankfully, my girls don’t have the same hang-ups that I did as a kid. And hearing my girls’ affirmations that they are ready to get back in the swing of things helps me to see that moving on and letting my past be in the past is a good thing.

But maybe I’ll leave my tree up-

just one more day.

the gift that keeps on givin’

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Shadows of our love                         

Skipping, racing,

holding hands,

impromptu mini-dates

with my man

our time is short

but our love is big-

when we’re together

I wanna dance a jig 

We wanted to keep the evening simple. My in-laws came for a visit, and let’s face it- ain’t nobody got time to be in the kitchen all day. I am not the greatest cook, so I like to leave that to the “professionals”. I ordered everyone’s meal and got ready to pick it up from the restaurant.

“Let’s leave the kids here with mom and dad, and I’ll go with you to pick it up,”  my hubby says to me.

We packed in more fun in that short 20 minute date than I thought was possible.

On the way, we drove through the neighborhood and caught a glimpse of Christmas lights.  We picked up dinner and then my husband says we have to make one more stop.  Ice cream.

Nooo!!  We don’t need it!  I beg him.

But who am I kidding?  I can’t resist the allure of ice cream with my pecan pie.  So I pull into the grocery store parking lot because now, I can’t even imagine my pie without that darned ice cream.

We get out of the car and hold hands.

“Let’s skip!”  my husband says, with a smile on his face.  And we do.  All the way into the grocery store. “You can’t skip without smiling, you know!” Yes, he is right.  Skipping is the cure all for any scowl.

He leaves me to pick out sodas while he grabs ice cream.

Have I ever shared with you a little problem I have?  I get completely and totally overwhelmed by supermarkets.  Too many choices to make.  And I’m thrifty- so I am always balancing what I want with what I need… with what’s the best deal.  So I spot the A&W Root Beer… because duh… it’s the best soda ever.  But it’s not as cheap as some of the others.  Time stands still and I ponder what to do for what feels like an eternity.

My husband spots me from the end of the aisle and is chuckling at me.

“I just knew it!”  He says.  He knows me and my little idiosyncrasies all too well…

He grabs the A & W and puts it into the cart, without giving it a second thought. We pay for our items and as we reach the parking lot, I tell him “Race ya!”

I begin to run, but he does not.  As soon as I stop, he blows past me- clearly using trickery to cheat me out of the win.

And so our mini-date comes to an end. As we drove the short drive home, I thought about all the gifts that meant the most to me this Christmas season, and it wasn’t things at all. They were moments.  Moments spent with my loved ones like-

-having my mom spontaneously lead us in singing carols Christmas night

-saying the blessing for our Christmas dinner

-sitting with my Granny and watching her open presents

-being silly with my family…ALL of them!

 -text messages from loved ones

-driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway enjoying the company and scenery

-and stealing little moments away with my husband- like our mini-date- reminding me how much I love him!

Love-

it’s the gift that keeps on givin’!

Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.      

1 Corinthians 13:13

Dry Beds

FullSizeRenderI do not have a thumb of green-

I have a thumb of death.    

Every living plant we’ve had-

I’ve choked it of its breath. 

O how I wish I could preserve

this beauty’s crimson hue

But tossing out its blackened husk

Is likely what I’ll do.  

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My track record of keeping plants alive is pretty dismal.  My husband says I have a thumb of death.  To this date, I have been unable to keep anything that grows alive- except for my children, of course! Every year my husband brings home a beautiful poinsettia from his office.  The one he brought home this year is so big, it’s actually wider than our Christmas tree!  The blooms are simply gorgeous.  But I am already having pity on this poor plant because of my horrible track record.

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But like all growing things- a little TLC goes a long way.  The truth of the matter is that I simply forget to water them.  I take them for granted, and then when I notice those blooms aren’t smiling back at me- well, they are too far gone to bring them back.

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 So, here I am again… with another chance to keep this poinsettia alive.  I am thankful that He gives us second chances. Even when I have waited far too long to drink His water, when I know that my “bed” is dry- it’s never too late.  As long as there is breath in our bodies- His grace is sufficient for us when we come to Him.

But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.  John 4:14

Lord, help me remember to come to You…. and help me tend to all the living things in my life!

Peace on earth…and goodwill at Goodwill

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The thrift store and I go back a long ways.

I began going to thrift stores when I was 16.  I love the interesting people I meet shopping there, and all the treasures I find are just an added bonus!

This past year, I had gotten several bags of clothes ready to donate to the local Goodwill.  I was going into town to run errands and dropping off my donations was first on my list.  As I was in the shower that morning, I began to pray about these clothes… that God would use them or use me at the Goodwill.  It was odd, because I don’t recall ever praying specifically for this before…

I finished getting ready and put all the things in my van.  It was a cold, sunny day and I pulled straight into a parking spot near the back of the store.  I got out of the van, and there was a middle-aged lady leaning on the trunk of her car.  She was just standing there- it was like she was waiting for me.  It was the craziest thing!

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“Hi, how are you doing?”  I asked her, casually.

“I’m good.”

I immediately thought of the things in my van, and as I opened my van to take out the items, I asked her if she needed any of the things I was giving away.  I had lots of clothing and shoes, and even a bicycle I was donating.

“Do you need a bike?  Or maybe you know someone else who needs it?”  I asked her, sure that somehow God wanted me to help this woman with something. I was a little surprised that she didn’t take anything I was giving away.

Then she said, “No… well, what I really need is a coat.”

I sifted through several bags, and unfortunately I didn’t have one to offer her.

“How about I go inside and look for one for you?”

She said she had already been inside, and that there were none that fit her.  Immediately I knew I had to find her a coat, and was even prepared to go to another store to find one, if I needed to. She smiled and said she’d be inside in a few minutes.

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I went to the rack of coats, and as I was looking, the workers put out several more on the rack.  I picked up a beautiful cranberry colored coat and just as I held it up, she walked into the store.

“I think I found you one!”  I smiled and held it out for her. She slipped her arms through the coat and smiled.

“It’s a perfect fit!” I said to her.

“I think this one is 5$,  and I wasn’t expecting to pay quite that much for a coat today.” I could hear the embarrassment in her voice.

I had planned on purchasing it all along for her.  “It’s my treat,” I smiled as I took the coat from her arms.

She followed me up to the register without saying a word.  I handed the cashier the money for the coat, and the lady asked the casher for a piece of paper and a pen. I wondered what she was going to do with it.

“Will you write down your name for me?” the lady said to me with tears in her eyes.

I smiled.  I have a feeling she just wanted to prove to someone that this had actually happened to her. So I signed it-

God bless you!

With love,

Julie

How different all our excursions would be if we prayed to be used. How different life is when we see ourselves as “messengers” on a mission for Him.  I don’t know that lady’s name… but all I know is that God used me to help someone else- and that lady, who seemed to be waiting for me-

was actually an answer to my prayer!

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:14

Lord, help me to focus on You and the little missions You want to use me for- not matter how small, no matter how insignificant they might seem. Help me to give generously, love unconditionally, and to do all things for You!  

Siblin’s Day- our made-up holiday…and a song about it

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Two are better than one- Ephesians 4:9

I love my sister.

There is no person on earth that knows me like she does.  All we have to do is look at each other- and we crack up. We know what each other is thinking before we even utter a word. It’s like we can read each other’s mind…I love laughing with her and being silly.  Since I moved away (almost) 10 years ago, we don’t get to see each other too often- but when we do, it’s like no time has passed!  I am so blessed to have a sissy!  She visited me this past weekend-which happened to be the anniversary of a holiday we made up when I was in college- “Siblin’s Day”.   Funny enough, after we made this holiday up, a national day has been set aside to celebrate Siblings Day- and coincidentally, it  happens to fall right around our own- April 10th!

Ok- honestly? We just wanted a special day to buy each other cool gifts.  Because we know each other so well, I can think of oodles of neat things to get her. So, we settled on the first Sunday of April- unless it falls on Easter, and then it is the 2nd Sunday. That is our designated “Siblin’s Day” Holiday. And yes, when we say it, we emphasize the first syllable- sib-lin… not sib-ling

So here are the rules we established on our first Siblin’s Day-

1. We must pick a theme. It is way more fun to shop when you have a theme in mind. Our first theme was “butterflies”.

2. We must find a gift to fit in with our theme. I still remember the beautiful butterfly hair clip and butterfly garden book she gave me on our first Siblin’s Day…

3. Find a “Sib”. I know not everyone has a sibling, but we all have special friends that are like kindred spirits, you know? Those friendships are worth celebrating, too!

4. Trust your “Sib”…. so this was a silly rule. No, we didn’t really mean that we would trust each other with our lives or anything…this one was shallow... we trusted that we would find the perfect gift to brighten the other’s day.

And through the years, we have forgotten this date a few times… but nevertheless, I am thankful for my sister and for our special relationship.  Even as adults with our own children now, we still act like kids when we are together.

So- don’t delay! Pick your theme now and tell your Siblin’ you love them!

It’s Siblin’s Day- the greatest day of the year!

And yes, we made up a song years ago to celebrate this day….I hope this silly song brings you JOY!  My sister and I spent many years singing and making up songs together- what a blessing it was to be silly and sing with her again this weekend!  Thanks, Netty, for singing with me!  Happy Siblin’s Day!!!

It’s siblin’s day- the greatest day of the year! You find a theme… you find a gift… you find a “sib”… trust that sib… cause it’s siblin’s day- the greatest day of the year!  When I’m happy and when I’m sad.  When I’m lonely and when I’m mad.  My siblin’s always there for me-  ’cause she’ll always be my family!  It’s siblin’s day- the greatest day of the year!