Monday, December 31, 2007

Send out the old, bring in the new!

Happy New Year...
on the eve of 2008!

Sending our love to you!

Sending out the old and bringing in the new requires a steadfast dedication to several things; a willingness to have thanksgiving for the moments of the year past, and hope for the blessings of the new year ahead. We choose to absolutely keep both in mind!

FAITH... is believing in things unseen.

As this eve of a New Year progresses moment to moment, at least our minds are occupied with this lovely addition to our telephone center, offering all a brainy moment to capture a thought or two and fill in the blanks of the crossword puzzle.

Imagine having a brand new page each and every day in over the entire year ahead to work on? Everyone so far has gotten into the act, and the January 1 date is slowly filling up with our answers. Think, think, think....and we are already ahead of ourselves for the upcoming new year, at least on this calendar near the telephone !

Happy New Year to you and yours!

P.S. I was very inspired by Randi at "I have to say" to try my hand at the candy cane photo above. What fun I had, but the sun wasn't appearing for a brighter shot that day. Check out Randi's, she the pro and her photos is outstanding.

Celebrating Christmas in the West.

Celebrating Christmas ... the West

While we were celebrating Christmas in the east, the rest of our family was celebrating in the west.

The white FedEx truck traveled across the land, carrying one very large box of gifts for the rest of the gang out west. There was also a smaller box sent at the same time, something I want to mention here in case anyone else has had this experience before. The smaller box was for our daughter, whose birthday fell around the same time as the shipping departure time. When the boxes were received at their destination, the smaller box had been sliced opened, all her birthday gift wrapping paper on the gifts was ripped into smithereens, and it was interesting to note even her birthday card envelope was torn open, card thrown back into the box with the rest. Before sending, all of the gifts had been placed inside of a plastic bag and tied, just in case of any moisture becoming absorbed by the cardboard box. It was a real shame to hear she had to open a box which seemingly looked like it was “full of garbage” at first glance. Hopefully no one else has encountered this premeditated vandalized bit of action in their shipping, but if you have, please tell me about it.

Back to “Christmas in the west”…

Most of the family was able to meet last Sunday for a nice breakfast brunch together, hosted by our eldest daughter and her husband in their home.

Prior to their gathering, we had fun here in the east assembling the gift packages and the fun little extras, something offering a nice round of laughter for the bunch, with designer head gear to wear.

Who says it can’t be fun to gather round, and make a memory while feeling like their parents were a bit daft with the resulting photo opportunities ahead of them for the rest of their day. Actually, truth be told, they all seemed to have fun with this little idea, so thanks for being great sports everyone!

It was thrilling for us to have pictures arrive in emails shortly after their gathering ended, an early Christmas for all before the rest of the week zoomed by and other family and friend commitments occurred.

These two had to work, and
opened their gifts later on.

Memories are made of these; time together, moments cherished celebrations to last a lifetime in our hearts.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Scenes from a Christmas

Scenes from a Christmas... the East

Christmas is a time for many things, and this year our celebrations included both my parents in all our family moments for a week’s time.

It was such a pleasure to meet and greet them at the airport. So much excitement filled the air once we arrived to pick them up, with so many people traveling to loved ones during the same time. During our time waiting for my parent's arrival, we were able to witness many, many grand reunions, all featuring happy and incredible heartfelt emotions, such a wonderful time to step back and view the tenderness and love to all those before us. There was an abundance of festivity all over the place.

A few times I caught myself dabbing my eyes, like when the young father appeared with two little ones in tow, his child's buggy holding many helium balloons tied to it, all pink, wafting in the air and a fresh batch of lovely flowers lay on top ready to bless someone with the exquisite bundle. That someone ended up being his wife, who had just returned from an escorted trip to acquire an adopted newborn daughter (thought of YOU Justine!!).

There were several soldiers dressed in their khakis, and their eyes were glancing all about for loved ones to greet them, imagine that reunion!

I noticed the older father who was there to pick up his son, and the unabashed show of affection between the two of them when embracing tenderly and lovingly.

I also noticed many a mother who arrived to a large family awaiting her visit with them for Christmas, as were of course, many other tender and emotional reunions.

Grandparent time...

The airport luggage waiting area was packed full, giving the term "sardines" a new meaning! Before my parent's plane actually landed, I noticed a line up growing at the lost luggage claim center and hoped we wouldn’t have to enter into it. Alas they arrived though, delayed somewhat while their connecting flight's attendants carefully determined whether to fly or to cancel the plane instead, due to an upcoming and imminent snow storm. Many flights had been canceled all afternoon as we glanced on the screens above to query if my parent's had as well. While watching them descend the long moving escalator towards the exit doors to the outer areas, we could hardly wait for our own embracing moment! Here at last was our reunion time, and we were so excited to have them here!

On our drive back to our home, we stopped and introduced our guests to a “Cracker Barrel Restaurant”, and if you haven’t been to one, or even heard of one, it’s a treat worth pursuing! My southern mother so enjoyed her okra, the hot biscuits, cornbread, and chicken and dumplings. “Just like home” she said. Likewise, the fried apples complimenting the meal were terrific as all the other “southern” homemade foods served to us that day.

Lovely rocking chairs on a front veranda are the Cracker Barrel signature greeting, along with a storefront with many unique and fun gift ideas. It turned into a fun event, our dinner stop on our long drive back home again.

To our delight, a fresh white snowy blanket appeared the following day after my parent’s arrival. The back property’s natural ice arena was small but usable. One child followed another, until all four were on their ice skates, and a hockey net with sticks soon followed for a wild game on a bumpy rink’s surface.

What fun to watch them!

What fun they had!

As our time together continued, scenes of Christmas floated in our heads, the candles were lit, music filled the air, Christmas lights on the tree nearby and outside were all aglow, and a lovely fire was enjoyed by all those gathering nightly for my mother’s foot rubs. Laugh

Great anticipation for all while awaiting
the birth of Christ for one of our many manger scenes.

(Notice all the animals who showed up this year...)

We traveled to church both on Sunday and again for Midnight Mass, where the smells and bells awaited all of our sensory pleasures. It was beautiful to celebrate Christmas with family present, by candlelight while carols rang in the midnight bells, and where the wee Christ child was laid in the manger in the crèche scene, for the festive and holy occasion just before mass began.

With our hearts all aglow, we savored the moments as our days rolled along. Life as we know it here in the east continued but most of all, we spent plenty of time visiting together, laughing, reminiscing, joking, chatting and most of all, making an incredible memory for all time to come.

(All ready to eat - no utensils...big oops, too relaxed!)

New boots from a big sis.

Handsome guy!

Family photo 2007

Happy Birthday to me!

(It can only happen AFTER dinner this day - my rule! :-)


The beauty of flowers - always appreciated.

As the time whisked by, it was soon time to bid one another “until the next time” farewells. We traveled together the night before my parent’s flight departure, as they were staying in a hotel overnight for their early morning flight. Wow, time flew!

Rolling along and pointing the way.

At the hotel lobby.

Thank you so much for visiting and spending Christmas with us here in the east Mom and Dad!

We love you and miss you already!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Messages of HOPE.


And now these three things remain;
Faith, Hope and Love

- 1 Cor. 13:13

This time each year, a plethora of sincere greetings are thrust forward, spilling out of lips by everyone one might meet on any given day. It’s a natural thing to do, why doesn’t it last all year long?

Messages of love and good cheer, along with messages of HOPE and joy, fill the media airwaves and cyberspaces. They are in hearty abundance, oozing from folks encountered upon during everyday journeys during this time of year, as are many messages and a hope for world peace to all mankind.

- Learn from yesterday, live for today,
for tomorrow.

This year the folks at “Focus on the Family” are attempting to convey messages of peace and goodwill like all others, though the simple word “HOPE” is the chosen running theme for this Christmas season, onward into the New Year of 2008. This designated theme is accompanied with a special pictorial image, that of a golden Christmas tree ornament hanging on a Christmas tree, with the word HOPE emblazoned on it’s center area. For the folks who subscribe to their free monthly magazine, a gifted enclosure fell out of the envelopes this month, a golden colored magnet with HOPE written over top in white cursive print. We happen to be a family with a stainless steel refrigerator, something of an obstruction when desiring to place something magnetic on it to remind us of something. So, here’s my magnet on the lap over my head at my computer to show all of you instead.

My HOPE magnet above my head as I type this post.

Each year about this time, a buzz begins to stir around our local communities, people become transformed with outward festive spirits and happy hearts, or at least it is a frame of mind that makes a difference in their outlook. All over folks are offering kind wishes to one another, even to perfect strangers. There is another kind of buzzing occurring alongside of the usual Christmas greetings and the real reason for the season, that of the upcoming brand new year directly ahead, one about to unfold when the clock strikes midnight on January 1st, 2008.

- Hope is not a dream but a way
of making dreams become reality.

For our family, welcoming a new year holds many things. It’s the new crisp calendar and day timer where monumental upcoming occasions are forwarded onto, emotions and HOPE for the new year stirring inside towards a terrific year over yonder.

There is always an emotional presence for most folks we speak with during this time of year, that of HOPE for the future, HOPE in all things important in life. This seems to be prevalent more and more as the years pass by, so many are experiencing hardships and so many are suffering greatly, yearning to kiss goodbye to the old, and hoping for a better year ahead.

Let your Hope keep you joyful,
be patient in your troubles,
and pray at all times.

- Romans 12:12

Admittedly there have been years in the past I’d personally like to erase on my own historical timeline, lousy years right from the get-go to its finish, ones we’d wish never happened at all. And then, there are those we can recount such an abundance of blessings, in mind, heart and soul. It’s difficult to even imagine erasing those sands of time which fell in our direct lines from the past. I suppose the sensational always make up for the bittersweet, and I also imagine it would be inconceivable to truly erase the rotten years, for we are made stronger by the bittersweet, the difficult, and the horrid.

Seemingly people triumph over areas of struggle, either within our very core, within our families, our neighborhoods, even within our communities at large. Yes, a new year offers much in the way of HOPE, it offers us new beginnings, rewind moments, optimistic ideals for the future, and an abundance of faith, which is “believing in things yet unseen” anyway, right?

Without faith, we can have no hope. Without hope, we have no faith. They are intertwined so closely, it would be difficult living without either one. There are times however when neither seem present in our lives, when our hearts sink into such a deep abyss’, we suddenly feel too weak to climb out of the sinking feeling to see above waters with a clear vision and can’t make precise judgments. In such times, it is within the murky waters before us where our true HOPE lays, the feeling of despondency and despair, perhaps that of a surrendering weightlessness. In all things, eventual dependence on something far greater than ourselves occurs. We all have those years my friend, we all have them.

As the days on the calendar tumble by, and it becomes time to flip over another page to a new month, until an entire year has been lived with plenty of possibilities along the way, something happens whether we are on board or not. Each moment, we hold a gift in our hands, an opportunity to cherish something everlasting and so immensely beautiful, but clearly - - - it’s a choice! Our lives are constantly being fashioned and tailored onto a unique canvas.

Our lives are like a canvas, with golden threads weaving through our tapestry of life, where unique and exquisite beauty are designed, invisible to us, though someday we will be able to behold it in a more tangible way. Until then, it remains unseen by the human eye, something like “believing in things yet unseen”. It’s a gift! It’s our life.

We behold the golden thread with those choices we make along the way, the roads we choose to wander down, and the peaks and valleys we may have to hike up from to see the beautiful landscape views from on high.

Yes, give me an ocean any day, a lovely and gentle reminder of the murky waters I’ve swam in and eventually climbed back onto the shores of - - the promising HOPE of things I just *had* to believe in for the future.

- May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human, enough HOPE to make you happy.

Over the past years, when the clock has struck midnight and a new year is before me, I shut down my mind and open my heart to thank God for the past year, and humbly lay out all my prayer petitions for the intentions closest to my heart for a HOPEFUL tomorrow. This year will be no different than any other year, there is MUCH to continue praying about, and as the family grows and expands, there will always so many things to pray for.

Happy Birthday Colby!

As well, right smack on the first day of the freshest blessing of another year, we have a grandson who celebrates a birthday, our family’s “New Year baby”. Happy Birthday Colby ….may your upcoming special day be wonderful, and may the memories you gather with those who love you become unforgettable to you always.

Meanwhile, as another brand new year looms ever nearer, let us not forget that there is another promise for all mankind approaching imminently, beginning with the birth of a wee babe, offering an abundance of true HOPE to all mankind. Whatever your needs are at this time, however heavy hearted or happy hearted you may be, may you indeed find all the faith, hope and love you yearn for in the gift of the Christ child. And, may he cuddle and nudge you ever gently, and oh so closely, lingering near the nap of your neck, loving you with his unconditional goodness, always offering HOPE, and ever keeping you close to his heart.

- And indeed everything that was written long ago in the scriptures was meant to teach us something about Hope; from the examples scripture gives of how people who did not give up were helped by God.

- Romans 15:4

(My parents arrived to celebrate
Christmas with us this year, yeah!)

Merry Christmas! ...

from our family to yours!