Monday, December 28, 2009
It feels a bit like a speeding train has derailed and finally has come to rest, doesn't it? Normally, I have most of my Christmas shopping by the day after Thanksgiving, the cards addressed, stamped, and ready to mail, tree up and decorated, house Christmasified, and all I have left to do is wrapping gifts. This year it didn't quite work out that way. Then again, not much was business as usual this year. My 2009 shall evermore be the Nine Toes Year. (See my Treadmill blog if you've managed to not hear about me losing my left little toe early this year, and NEVER GO ON A TREADMILL BAREFOOT!!!) It will also be the year I finally began the process of recapturing my health and vitality. As I share some of the gifts I received this year, and they are so precious, indeed, I want you to know that you, my dear SparkFriends, are gifts given to me by my Father who loves me with an everlasting love. You are treasures that I hope to keep forever, past the boundaries of this lifetime, and I am SO thankful for you. I pray that God equips me and helps me to care for such precious gems diligently and with great care.
The sadness of Bill not being home for Christmas weighed heavily upon us and him, of course. My stepchildren, Big Mel, 20, and Billy, 17, were abandoned by their mother in 2002. Every Christmas Day since, Billy awakens with hopes that she will call to wish him Merry Christmas. It has never happened, not even once. Even after all this time, he still had his couple hours of tears and heartache. It is a great challenge for me to not succumb to temptation. The enemy of our souls very much wants me to be in a position where I cannot pray for this woman in faith, believing that God is able to reach her and reconcile her to Himself and to some sort of relationship with her children who still need her. If I harbor fantasies in my heart of snatching her up by the hair at the back of her head and driving her face into a brick wall once for every tear my babies have cried because of her, how can I have faith? Okay, so maybe I DO think it. *grin* I no longer, however, allow it take root in my heart, and I AM able to pray for her with a sincere heart.
Other than those two dampeners, our day was filled with the sweet nearness of family. Our older two girls are 20 and out on their own, one married with a child and the other a full-time (eternal?) student who holds down two or three jobs. With their full lives, it's hard to get all four of our kids in the same place, at the same time. It's always a joy for this mama's heart when it happens!
And of course this year, we have the great blessing of the newest addition to our family, Heath Garland, who will be two in February. Here he is at Uncle Vernon and Aunt Randie's house for Christmas dinner, with Mommy sneaking in some sugar under the mistletoe.
It's so hard to pick and choose a few photos for you without boring you to tears! lol This one is of Big Melanie (Bigga, as we call her) with her Tinkerbell snowglobe:
Billy and his prized new guitar:
Chelle with her Sunburst necklace:
MelMel trying to make Deuce take a Christmas photo (and he was NOT happy about it lol):
Her real present was an electronic drum set:
Heath and his daddy, Chad:
Randie (my dear sister of the heart who shares my love for water aerobics and goes with me every day), Vernon's wife, loved her eggplant colored laptop case:
Vernon (the dear brother of my heart you've read about in other blogs who saved me the night my treadmill ate my toe and pretty much saves me from lots of other things every day of the year) was delighted with the first season of Taxi on DVD (and his Steelers slippers and gnome!):
My mother-in-law, Janet, and Billy at her assisted living center's Christmas party (now those of you who've joined with me in prayer for her can see who you've been praying for!):
Our good friends, Blake and Cyndi, have moved back here from Arizona after being gone a year or so. Some of you will remember me talking about Katy when she decorated awesome cakes for my kids' birthdays. Cyndi is Katy's mom. What a delight it is to have them back home!! Blake an his new jammies:
Cyndi opening a fruit basket:
After all the presents were opened, our little man tuckered out, asleep under the tree. All you can see are his toesies. lol
Michelle, our second oldest (my firstborn) devotes six weekends of her life every year to the Louisiana Renaissance Festival. This year she was a tavern wench (which is apparently a step up from a pirate because she made tips in addition to an hourly salary... who knew? lol). She had a photo of her at work framed for me and I just love it:
A very special gift I received came from RelocatedCowboy, GirlHalfFull and their precious family. The photo does not do this exquisite handcrafted ornament any justice at all. It is SO beautiful. Thank you again, guys. You are so sweet!
The show stopper of the day was a box that had arrived a few days before Christmas. It took every drop of restraint for me to wait until Christmas morning to open it. We tried to take a video of the unveiling but I don't have the files from Vernon, yet, so I don't know if it came out, yet, and I couldn't wait to share our day with you! I suspect it will be too long to post here, though. If not, I'll share it with you. PepperLeah, my sweet, sweet friend, poured her time and energy and creative abilities into I don't want to consider HOW many hours to make this absolutely gorgeous afghan for our king-sized bed. Words nor photos can express how special a gift it is or the magnitude of its worth to my heart. Thank you, girlfriend. You are amazing. I love your heart and I love you both!
Now that I've taken up so much of your time and forced you to make an optometrist appointment for tired eyes, I thank you for taking the time to be interested in me and my family, for extending such warmth and friendship to me constantly, for sharing your own lives with me in so very many ways. Until next time, much love!
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I interrupt your regularly scheduled holiday insanity for this much needed humor break that has NOTHING to do with holidays, feuding in-laws, or finding acceptable gifts for 20 and 12 year old daughters:
1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.
2. Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.
3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.
4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.
5. How in the world are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?
6. Was learning cursive really necessary?
7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.
8. Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.
9. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.
10. Bad decisions make good stories.
11. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.
12. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.
13. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.
14. "Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this -- ever.
15. I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Darn it!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What'd you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and run away?
16. I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.
17. I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.
18. My 4-year old nephew asked me in the car the other day, "What would happen if you ran over a ninja?" How the heck do I respond to that?
19. I think the freezer deserves a light as well.
20. I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with alcohol than Kay.
I now return you to the regularly scheduled insanity with all of it's decorating and card writing and stamp buying and cooking and party attending and baking and wrapping and *deep breath* not overeating and fitting in exercise AND sleep and feathers ruffling and cajoling and lecturing and mediating and *another deep breath* praying, praying, praying for the in-laws (and my poor three brothers who have to live with my sisters-in-law in the midst of the madness) and *groan* the shopping for kids that will SURELY smile and roll their eyes no matter WHAT they're given (except my 10 month old grandson who will love the box whatever I give him comes in!) and and and ... It does stop on the 25th, right? lol
Please, don't lose sight of the real reason we're doing all this (and His name is Jesus) and spend some time in fellowship and worship with Him, reminding Him that it is His life we celebrate. (For my cherished Jewish friends, remember the ancient and revered celebrations with joy-filled hearts, knowing you are God's chosen nation, and thank you for sharing your customs and their meanings with those of us who are of other faiths.)
Breathe, my friends, BREATHE!!!
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
A friend of mine (thanks, Stacy, if you ever see this!!) sent me a media file titled The Invisible Woman. I realized how invisible I've felt at times in my life... and how much of my life I've spent wishing I WAS invisible because I didn't love what I looked like and was so certain nobody else could love what I looked like, either. In both of those cases, I never, not for one moment, escaped the loving gaze of my Father God. He doesn't look upon me because He has to, either, out of some sense of obligation. He looks upon me in total, complete love because He totally and completely loves me, no matter WHAT I look like or how I feel about how I look. Isn't that something?!
Today my husband joined me in attending my water aerobics class, as he sometimes does when he's home for his two weeks off. The folks there are so awesome. It's really a sweet and fun place to spend time. As I was doing the grand new routines one of the physical therapists helped me devise (and she's not even part of the Wellness Center staff, bless her heart!), my husband wades over to me and tells me: You know, with that ponytail and those cheesy Christmas earrings (Okay, they ARE cheesy, but I like them!! They're little dangly gifts wrapped in red, green and gold.), you're kinda cute! Huh? Me?? CUTE??? Mind blowing. For my husband to just blurt something like that out, something spontaneous from his heart, in a pool full of people, knocked my socks off (you know, if I'd have had socks on in the pool). I am so blessed with a husband who is actively involved in my journey into healthier living. He is such a cheerleader for me and his excitement about the changes in my life, in my body is contagious. I thank God for him. I truly do. He often comments on my hard work, my dedication to this great work happening within me. He tells everyone we know how proud he is of me and I just melt every time he does. But to tell me I'm cute? Wow. Just WOW! That did more for my momentum, for my self-esteem than I can express. I'm not invisible to him. And I don't want to be, either. THAT'S a real miracle!
Ever look at someone and think: They sure do look nice today; I like that sweater he has on; she has a new hairstyle and I like it? If so, TELL them. A kind word of genuine affirmation goes a long, long way.
Here's the link for the Invisible Woman clip. I dedicate it to you, my fellow masterpieces, who are ever under the watchful, tender, eye of our loving Father who gazes upon us and says in all truth: It is good.
I love y'all lots and lots.
Sunday, December 06, 2009
One of the happiest days of my husband's time here in Louisiana (Allentown boy that he is) was when he heard a Bass Pro Shop was being built here. For MONTHS he awaited the completion of construction and then the grand opening. I didn't get it. What's all the hoopla? It's a big boy toy store and that's all, right? Nope! This place is AMAZING. Not only do they have the coolest hunting and fishing stuff (or so I'm told because I wouldn't recognize cool from uncool in these departments if my life depended upon it), but they have clothes and toys and candy and every kind of jerky you can imagine. (I bought Bill some Elk jerkey just because.) The decor is unbelievably beautiful, with huge bald cypress trees dripping with Louisiana moss, and there's an aquarium that's a full story high. Very impressive stuff!! They had a Santa's Village with all sorts of games and arts and crafts for the wee ones. And they had free photos with Santa! Free? With SANTA??!! We're ON! So we managed (which is nothing shy of miraculous) to gather our two 20 year olds and our grandson as well as our two best friends and off we went to Baton Rouge, an hour away. That free Santa photo only cost me $250. lol Actually, the $250 got me a very nice fillet knife kit and kick butt pocket knife for Bill for Christmas, a sweater and a four foot long rainbow fish pillow for Chelle (and some turkey jerky for my non-red-meat-eating little beauty and jalapeno beef jerky for her beau), a jacket and gloves for Billy, and a sweater for my youngest, Melanie, and a few other little goodies. Bigga (Big Melanie since our blended family has two Melanies) and the baby left before we could pry out of her what she might want.
Now for a personal note that I know my SparkFamily will understand. To most of the people in the world, this will seem SO inconsequential, such a trivial thing. To me it was such an awesome milestone. The last time we'd gone to Bass Pro was months before my treadmill accident on Feb. 28 of this year. Then, of course, I went nowhere for months as I endured wound care after the amputation of my toe. While we were last there, I could barely walk from the parking lot to the entrance. When I trudged through the doors, aching, panting already with the exertion, I looked at the beautiful decor and then to the pathway ahead and panicked. There were turnstiles. I eyed up the distance from the metal legs of that evil machine to the partition dividing the aisles and my heart sank. I knew Bill could feel my heart drooping as horridly as my body was drooping. Dear that he is, he ran interference for me and the lady happily opened a gate off to one side so I could waddle through to the scooter, where I gratefully dropped into the seat to try to catch my breath. I was humiliated and exhausted and wanted to go home and hide.
It's hard to believe I didn't remember those turnstiles when we planned this little jaunt, but I didn't. When we walked in the door, we ooh'ed and aah'ed at the gorgeous Christmas decorations and set about taking photos at the huge Christmas tree and fireplace and hearth decorated for just that purpose. As we finished up with the photos and started heading into the store proper to find Santa, I walked up to AND THROUGH the turnstile without missing a blink. I hear this deep voice of my proud Irishman: You GO, girl! lol Bill was beaming as brightly as I was, and that affirmation means more than I can ever express. Randie had gone through before me and I leaned in to tell her that I could not accomplish this last time we were here and she whooped and hollered so that the lady checking in customers got curious. Well, Randie, accustomed to hanging out with me, says: Give her a SparkPeople card! lol Randie proceeds to tell the lady I've lost 65 pounds and I chirped in about the turnstile victory. The lady leaves her post, runs at me with both arms open and hugs me like she was my long lost aunt or something, smiling so big to me, telling me how proud she is of me. I felt like a second grader who got the only gold star of the day! lol From my photo it's no surprise to any of you that I'm 50 years old, so feeling like a little kid who just got a gold star is nuts. I know that. I realize that. I really do. You all see my weight ticker continuously (since I'm such a bigmouth and my posts are everywhere!) and you know that I still have a long, LONG way to go on this journey, with only a small bite of my goals met. Didn't stop me, though. I still felt like a WINNER!
I want to share some photos with you from last night because it was such a fun evening spent with family and our dearest friends.
This is the huge Christmas Tree in the lobby. What cool ornaments they had on it, including a full sized life preserver!
The lobby ceiling is two or three stories high. This is one of the huge moss-draped bald cypress trees in the lobby. Totally a southeast Louisiana swamp scene.
Chairs made with bull horns.
Chair carved out of a tree trunk.
The star of our show, our grandson, ten month old Heath
Our kids and grandbaby with the Clauses
The best friends anyone could ever have, Vernon & Randie
Thursday, December 03, 2009
Coordinating the doctor who inserts the tube into the kidney and the laser machine that busts up the stones (which travels from hospital to hospital) has proven impossible for this week. They could do the procedure NEXT Friday, but Bill returns to his ship on the following Wednesday, and that is just too soon. He works out on his ship in the Gulf of Mexico for four weeks and is then home two weeks. The doctor said due to the excessive size and quantity of the stones, it will likely require two or three procedures of going in through the tube during the hospital stay (a day or two apart) and that one or two additional hospital stays will be required, with multiple procedures in each hospitalization. Oh, boy!
So the plan is now to do the first procedure on the right kidney when Bill gets home after this next hitch, sometime in mid-January. Thankfully, he is not in pain. We are peaceful that God's timing is being revealed in all these delays. My prayer is that God will heal him, of course, and say to those stones be thou removed and cast into the sea! Wouldn't that be something? If He chooses to do so through our competent doctor, we will be grateful just the same.
THANK YOU for the outpouring of compassion and kindness, of encouragement, of faith, of such beautiful prayers, of the awesome advice and suggestions for me in the midst of all the madness. I LOVE you, my SparkFamily. You fill my heart with such love and strength. You make me feel so surrounded by safety and sweetness.
So we'll do it all again in six weeks and hopefully get my husband at least partially fixed up. Now that he won't be recovering from surgery, we can get the Christmas decorations down from the attic!! We must celebrate Christmas for him early because he will be out on the ship for the holidays, working hard for our family.
Get An Email Alert Each Time YATMAMA Posts