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!