Remembering 2011

Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.- Hal Borland

That is a quote I found when looking up information about year’s end. I like the sentiment of going on with what you’ve learned in the previous year.

It is hard to believe there are less than 2 days now left of 2011 and then we start 2012. This year seems to have flown by.  We started the year with the loss of a dear uncle, then lost other ones dear to us throughout the year. These losses were hard but each day gave way to new hopes and opportunities and healing from those losses.

In addition to these losses were also wonderful new lives that came — my cousin had a beautiful daughter and a dear friend’s granddaughter was born.  And, other new and exciting things – my son using the potty for the first time, starting to learn his letters, drawing amazing pictures, and having amazing thoughts on a variety of subjects.

This year was quite busy for me and my family.  We traveled several places throughout the year — some for business and some for vacation. Each trip was fun and full of something new.  Whether we were visiting friends and family or visiting a new location, we enjoyed the time that we had. And at the end of each trip, we were blessed to get back home to our house, our community, and church.

Also this year we celebrated many birthdays. My family makes a big deal of birthdays for both the children and adults. And I have to admit that I love that! One day to celebrate another trip around the sun is very special and a gift. That is still a time to feel special and see everyone who truly loves you. A true blessing, that’s for sure.

I also was able to reconnect with some friends and had a great time planning a high school reunion. It was fascinating to hear about everyone’s different path in life. And, we came together to celebrate, get reacquainted, and even start new relationships.

I enjoyed a trip to the beach as well. This is the beach I have been going to since I was a child. It is still a magical place for me and a place that I love to visit! And, now Ian is starting to love as much as I do. We visited with friends and family — some people who we see just once a year. We make the most of that time and start back right where we left off.  Do you have people like that in your life?

Much more could be said about this year, but I mainly want to think back on my memories and hold them near and dear. I have learned to take each day and make the most and best of it. And, I continue to learn to be thankful for all of the gifts that I have and continue to receive.

I do wonder if we carry that wisdom and experience into 2012. I hope and pray that we can.

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Christmas Blessings

This year was full of Christmas blessings for me and my family.  I hope that it was for you as well.

We had fun with family and friends opening gifts, chatting, eating, resting, playing games, building a new pirate ship, cleaning up the dishes and enjoying all of our new items.

Many blessings for this year — more than I can count. I really enjoyed and appreciated all of the items that I got this year — a new perfume to enjoy, a new cookbook with all new recipes to try, CDs of music, gift cards to pick new items, and jewelry.

My husband and son also received several wonderful items as well. Money, items for a computer, and clothes are always welcome.  And, Ian was thrilled with new books, his new pirate ship, several games, puzzles and items to make toy moldings.

Isn’t it amazing when you receive the exact gift that you have asked for?  Or how wonderful is it when you see your son or daughter or parent or other special someone open a gift that they really wanted? They are truly excited and pleased to receive.

The best part of the holiday though was the time with our family and friends!  The thoughtfulness that went into each gift was so special. And, the time to visit and enjoy one another’s company was so special as well.  The Christmas music sung by the choir and the candlelight services are also something to remember. I also always appreciate Christmas cards and photos and enjoy seeing what people dear to me have been involved with in the last year. And hearing the news that our niece was engaged was truly exciting!

One of the most special gifts that I received was from my sister.  She had a special charm made for me to wear on a necklace or as a pin.  On one side is a photo of our grandparents on their honeymoon.  They were married in 1930 and stayed married for 66 years before our grandfather passed away.  They passionately loved each other and all of their family.  They are truly people to learn from so this photo means more than I can explain here.

The other side is a picture of our family’s beach house with a rainbow on it. This house is one that I have been to for many years – with my parents, aunts and uncles, and my brother and sister and cousins and now with spouses and our children as well.  It is a magical place. This gift touched me and brought tears of joy to my eyes.  It is very sentimental and very special and a gift that I will always treasure!  You did well sis and I appreciate your thoughtfulness so very much!

This week we continue to enjoy time with family and friends and have time to savor our gifts that we gave and received.  I wonder if I can continue this amazing feeling after the week is finished.  I hope and pray that we can.

Thank you Lord for all blessings. Please helps us always to be truly thankful!  Amen

Two Christmas Songs

With just days away from Christmas, I wanted to post the lyrics to the two songs which are very powerful to me this year — “O Holy Night” and “Do They Know It’s Christmas Time?”

These two songs are as different as two can be, but the words in each are so meaningful to me about the true meaning of Christmas. One is a hymn that I’ve heard at church accompanied by an organ.  The other is by pop artists from the United Kingdom who came together as the group Band Aid to raise money.

I included both of these songs in my The Gift of Christmas Music posting — as #1 and $4.   The first lyrics I have included are from “O Holy Night.”

  • O Holy Night!  The stars are brightly shining, It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth
  • Long lay the world in sin and error pining, tell He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
  • A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
  • Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
  • Oh night divine, the night when Christ was born;
  • Oh night, O Holy Night, O night divine!
  • Oh night, O Holy Night, O night divine!
  • Truly he taught us to love one another, His law is love and his gospel is peace.
  • Chains shall he break for the slave is our brother, and in His name all oppression shall cease.
  • Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we, let all within us praise His holy name.
  • Christ is the Lord! Then ever, ever praise we, His power and glory ever more proclaim!
  • His power and glory ever more proclaim!

The second song was released by a group called Band Aid in 1984 (I think).

  • It’s Christmas time, there’s no need to be afraid
  • At Christmas time, we let in light and we banish shade
  • And in our world of plenty, we can spread a smile of joy!
  • Throw your arms around the world at Christmas Time.
  • But say a prayer – pray for the other ones
  • At Christmas time, it’s hard but when you’re having fun
  • There’s a world outside your window
  • And it’s a world of dreaded fear
  • Where the only water flowing is a bitter sting of tears
  • And the Christmas bells that ring there are the clanging chimes of doom
  • Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you.
  • And there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time
  • The greatest gift they’ll get this year is life
  • Where nothing ever grows
  • No rain or rivers flow
  • Do they know it’s Christmas time at all?
  • Here’s to you, raise your glass for everyone
  • Here’s to them, underneath that burning sun
  • Do They Know It’s Christmas Time at All?
  • Feed The World (3 times), let them know it’s Christmas time (and repeated several more times).

The thought that a family doesn’t have food on Christmas or any other day of the year is heartbreaking to me and yet I know there are families all over the world that deal with this problem each day. I am so very thankful for my home, food to eat, and dear ones to celebrate this special time of year with as well as other events throughout the year. What an amazing blessing!

I hope and pray for a blessed and wonderful Christmas.  I wonder if can we celebrate it and truly praise Him and show this love throughout the year to others.

The Gift of Simple Things

(note: I had to repost this — due to some computer trouble – sorry the comments and likes were deleted)

In this crazy and super busy time of year, it is important to remember the simple things.

I don’t know about you but I am super busy these days and am not sure how I will have everything ready in time for Christmas. Every year, I always say I am going to start earlier in the year, but it never happens. Here’s hoping we can be ready.

The important thing to remember is that Christmas is about the birth of Jesus  Christ – not the biggest present you can find, or how many cards you send out, or any other competition that can sometimes happen. It is a day to celebrate the gift of a savior.

Going to church and singing all of the hymns is a very important part of Christmas for me. As well as the special dinner on Christmas Eve and family traditions these are also great. And, since I have a son who for the first time this year is truly aware of all that is going on, Santa Clause is also a part of Christmas.

I truly appreciate the simple things in life, and especially appreciate them this time of year.  To me, it is more important to be with my family and friends than it is to get one more new sweater or CD or any other gift. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy buying gifts for people and receiving them as well. But, I like the togetherness too! My point is that simple things aren’t really things at all — but experiences and memories.

Some of my favorite simple things are:

  1. The smell of coffee brewing in the morning
  2. a warm shower
  3. a hug and kiss from my husband
  4. a hug from my son
  5. reading the Sunday newspaper
  6. practicing a song on the piano
  7. going to the library for story time and to choose books to read at home
  8. talking to my mother about a favorite tv show
  9. a home cooked meal
  10. seeing my son play with his grandpa
  11. reading my Bible that I got when I joined MOPS
  12. reading my grandfather’s writings
  13. looking at photos
  14. watching White Christmas and The Sound of Music and singing along to every song

I could go on and on, but that’s a good start. I have my routines and my favorite things to do, as I am sure we all do.

I wonder if you also have some favorite simple things. I hope that you do.

The Gift of Time

“If I could save time in a bottle the first thing that I’d like to do is save every day ’til eternity passes just to spend them with you,” the opening line to Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce

What if we could save time like that?  Wouldn’t that be great? Then we’d have a chance to do things over, build up time for when we really need it, or just take our time for granted.

But time doesn’t work that way.  Time is a precious gift that should be savored and appreciated.

At my first job after college I was a reporter for a small town paper.  My “beat” was the police and sheriff’s departments as well as the fire department and county ambulance service and the courthouse offices, county commission and other assignments as given.  An amazing beat where I learned a lot.  One of the best things I ever heard in my life was from a paramedic who was the supervisor of his particular crew – his name was Gordon and he is someone I will never forget.  He told me, “never be a grave hugger.” I asked, “what do you mean?”

He explained that you should always tell people you love them, never leave anything unsaid, and never regret having said something to someone without an apology because you just don’t know how long you have with them. Very profound words for me to hear as I was just starting my career and adult life. That has been something I have tried to live by ever since and am so thankful for his wisdom.

Time also is a funny thing — sometimes it seems to fly by and other times it seems to drag. But we are still given the same 24 hours, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Have you ever noticed that when you are on vacation or doing something you really enjoy, the time seems to pass very quickly? It certainly seems to for me.  Or if you are dragging at the end of the week or feeling ill or with a person who is difficult to deal with, the hours seem to last and last? Again, I can relate to this too.

This summer I celebrated a wonderful high school reunion – our 25th.  I just can’t believe so many years have gone by since high school!  I sometimes still feel like that girl in the drama club, show choir with a small circle of friends, but know that I am not. I have responsibilities, a family, and an amazing life as an adult with many family and friends whom I cherish. It is amazing to see my friends from high school now and how everyone gets along so well — I have a unique class in that most of us are still in touch with each other. And we truly care about each other — what a blessing.

I hope that we can make the most of each day and truly learn to cherish this gift. I know there are people who wish they’d had more time with a loved one who has a lingering and/or long illness, or an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, or a childhood that has passed too quickly. For these people, I pray for comfort and the understanding that again with time, wounds can be healed and life can get better again.

Also time is positive for the Olympic athlete who has trained most of his or her life for a sport and then has the chance to compete and win a medal.  Wow!! I graduated with a girl who played for the Olympic women’s basketball team – they won gold which was amazing. Or the time your child is born is one is one you will always remember, or seeing your favorite band in concert, or watching the blockbuster movie, or when something amazing and wonderful happens – you get the job you’ve worked for, you get a promotion, your team wins the World Series or the Super Bowl.

Some things I savor are the time to bake and decorate cookies with my son, the time to watch the sunset at Mission Beach, the time to visit with a friend who I haven’t seen in years, the time to do laundry and spend the day visiting with my grandfather, the time to read the Bible, the time to read a book or newspaper, the time to celebrate a dear one’s birthday, the time to go to church and worship the Lord and sing His praises, and the time to have a date with my husband.

I still wonder if we can appreciate our time and make the most of it and try to help someone else. Lord, please help us do just that.

The Gift of Christmas Music

Tis the season to be thankful for music!

I love music and especially Christmas music.  It has always been a big part of Christmas for me and my family. I like to sing the songs along with the radio. All day today as I have been doing things, I have listened to this music. It really does put you in the mind of the wonderful holiday and what is celebrated.

I also like listening to the choir at church and all of the special music that the kids and adults always do.  One year I sang in a choir for midnight mass as we performed Handel’s Messiah.  What an amazing piece of music.  It is sung with a full orchestra and is beautiful!! My favorite song from The Messiah is The Hallelujah Chorus and I know each word and note.  Here are some of the words, “The Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ.  and, He shall reign forever and ever.  King of Kings and Lord of Lords.”  (As I am typing this, I am singing it).

This and other songs bring back such beautiful memories of Christmases as a child and young adult.  I like songs about both Jesus and Santa Clause.  And, both have always been a very important part of Christmas.  We have told Ian that Santa was also known as St. Nicholas who helped people and especially children.  And, he knows that Christmas is Jesus’ birthday. It is amazing to see his excitement as he continues to learn more about all parts of this holiday. And, I shouldn’t forget Rudolph and the reindeer and Frosty the Snowman.

I imagine we all have our favorites.  I have many, many songs that I really like but I decided to limit my list on this post to my top 20 in no particular order.  On a few of the songs I have also included my favorite singer.

  1. O Holy Night — as sung by my mother at church with an organ.  This is gorgeous and a real treat since her soprano voice soars to the Heavens!  It always brings tears of joy to my eyes.
  2. The Hallelujah Chorus — as sung by a choir with a full orchestra behind them.
  3. The Most Wonderful Time of the Year — as sung by Andy Williams.  I have like him since I was a child.
  4. Do They Know It’s Christmas — by Band-Aid — this was recorded in 1984 and is still one of the most powerful songs of the season to me.  I can’t help but think of the many families who can’t celebrate. Let’s reach out to them.
  5. Tennessee Christmas — as sung by Amy Grant — I have always liked her and especially like this song since this is where I grew up.
  6. I’ll Be Home For Christmas — as sung by Josh Groban.  What an amazing voice he has and with the recordings of military families intermixed with the song — it gives me chills.
  7. Please Celebrate Me Home — as sung by Kenny Loggins.  I have also liked him for a long time and really enjoy this take on the song.  Nothing like home for Christmas!
  8. Happy Holidays — as sung by Andy Williams.  Again, he’s a favorite and his entire Christmas album is fantastic!
  9. Winter Wonderland as sung by the Eurythmics — this is a  great take on this song with wonderful music.
  10. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) as sung by U2 — one of my favorite groups and another wonderful arrangement.  Are you noticing a theme about home?
  11. A Baby Changes Everything as sung by Faith Hill — this is about Jesus’ birth and that He did change everything. But since my own baby changed a lot in my life, there is a double meaning.
  12. Wonderful Christmastime — as sung by Paul McCartney — I have liked him for years both as a solo artist and with the Beatles.
  13. Santa Clause is Coming To Town as sung by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band — I really like this song that was recorded at one of their concerts.
  14. Silver Bells — no particular artist — just have always liked this song
  15. Frosty the Snowman as sung by Jimmy Durante on the cartoon (at least I think that is who it is).
  16. Joy to the World — as sung at church
  17. Silent Night — as sung at church
  18. Chestnuts Roasting on An Open Fire — as sung by various artists
  19. O Come All Ye Faithful — as sung at church
  20. And last but not least, White Christmas as sung by Bing Crosby in the fabulous movie of the same name.  Also from that movie is Snow which my sister and I just love.

I wonder what your favorite Christmas songs are. Please share them.

The Gift of Health

Tis the season for fun and visiting and enjoying the holidays. And a time to be thankful for the gift of health.

Being healthy is something that I am very grateful for.  I do have some issues but nothing too serious. I feel very blessed about that.  This time of year is called cold and flu season and that is certainly no fun at all, but the good thing is that it is temporary.

On Sunday, I woke up not feeling very good. I went to a walk-in clinic and was told that I have an upper respiratory viral infection. They said I should be better in a week rest and fluids, some over the counter medicine and a balanced diet. This is a virus that is going around so be careful – stay rested and sneeze into your elbow not all over someone like we sometimes do.

This isn’t fun certainly and I was little bit bummed since there is so much to do.  Then later that night, I watched a movie on The Hallmark Channel about a young girl with cancer.  Suddenly my illness seemed so minor and I found myself getting so involved in the story that I was crying.  You see, I was thinking about my own family and realizing how fortunate we are that everyone is healthy. I realized that I sometimes take that fact for granted.  But I have to remember that good health is a gift.

We are blessed not to have to deal with radiation and chemo, constant pain and discomfort, numerous shots and visits to the doctor and hospital.  Some people, however, deal with those things every day.  My heart goes out to them.  As I watched this movie where it looked like the girl wouldn’t live very long, I couldn’t help but wonder how do parents deal with a child who has cancer?  Or a person losing their mate or partner? I think these people are much stronger than I am, that’s for sure.

I am so thankful for St. Jude Children’s Hospital, all children’s hospitals, cancer centers, heart specialists, Shriners hospitals, hospice facilities, and nursing homes.  The people who work at these facilities are amazing and so helpful when people are at their absolute worst. They help people (adults and children) through very dark times and work with them to the good times. God bless them.

I have a friend from college who has been battling several types of cancer for a while now. Yet, she is one of the most positive and happy people who I know.  Her secret is her faith in Christ who has helped her through it all.  And, she truly realizes that each day she has is a gift. She is an inspiration. May we all have that strength and faith.

Lord let us be truly thankful for our health. And Lord, please comfort those who are suffering.  And, I wonder if we can remember how blessed we are to be healthy.

The Joy of Christmas

Just a few more weeks until Christmas and there is still so much to do.  Tree and house decorated, check. Gifts purchased, not checked. Photos picked for Christmas card, check. Cards written, not checked.  You see my dilemma.

This is always a very busy time of year with finishing up projects for work, and figuring out which parties to attend, and planning the shopping or craft that you will make for people. I do know a few people who are already finished with all of their purchases for Christmas.  That is amazing and I hope to be able to do that one of these years, but it hasn’t happened yet.

I am trying not to get stressed out about all that is left to do and do a little each day.  And, I am looking forward to this Christmas — especially because my 4-year-old son is so into it this year.  He is excited about every aspect to the holiday season. We are counting the days until Christmas – just 20 now — and enjoy the Advent Calendar. He helped decorate trees at three houses and still can’t get enough of that. He asked for a Santa toy and we found him a singing Santa from a store.  He loves it!!!

As I write this, he is pouring over a toy catalog trying to find each gift that he would like. “I want this girl toy for you Mommy,” and “I want this truck for Daddy.” Very sweet and I have tried to explain I like different things now but he still has in mind his mommy and daddy should get a toy for Christmas. We are going to bake cookies and let him decorate them and he is excited about that as well. That will be messy but fun and a great memory.

My husband and I keep trying to tell him there is more to Christmas than just the presents and that some kids don’t have or get anything. He is interested in giving something to them, so that is really nice. And, we are trying as a family to create our own traditions. That is a precious part of the holiday to me as my family had great traditions as I was growing up and still have them, and my husband’s family has as well.

With all of the activities and craziness that this month often brings, it’s easy to forget the real meaning of Christmas is the gift of love, forgiveness, and sharing with those closest to you.  After all, Jesus is the Reason for the Season.

Between now and the end of the month, I am going to be writing about gifts — not those you place under a tree but those things in life that you can’t buy.  Like the gift of health, the gift of love, the gift of music, the gift of time, and the gift of faith.  These are just some of my ideas. Please share others with me. I would appreciate the input very much.

I wonder if we can cut through all of the commercialism and craziness and truly enjoy this gift of Jesus’ Birth and the gift that is Christmas?

Birthday Blessings

Yesterday was my birthday and it was a great day!

My day started with a very early wakeup call wishing me a happy birthday. After some more resting, my husband and son prepared breakfast in bed for me and we enjoyed that.  What a wonderful way to start the day.

Then I read notes on Facebook from many dear friends wishing me a happy birthday.  Some of these dear people I haven’t seen in years yet they remain very dear and precious to me. Isn’t it amazing that with some people, you can be apart for a while but when you are together, it is like no time has passed? And, you can get right back into the rhythm of your friendship?  I hope that you have people in your life like that.

One friend I have known since elementary school. She mentioned a time that we got in trouble in a class which for the two of us was rare — really it was.  The funny thing is that right before Thanksgiving I saw the teacher at the grocery store. This was the teacher who had us go to the coat closet as punishment (where we continued to talk). It was great to see this man who’d been so important in my younger days. This friend and I have always liked to laugh and continue to do so! A few years ago we had a great time at the beach with our children and hope to get together again!

I heard from another friend who I’ve also known since elementary school. She mentioned making Christmas ornaments at one of my birthday parties and that she still had the ornament and had put it on her tree.  That really made my day! What a fun memory.

Thanks to them and all of my friends and family who gave me such wonderful birthday wishes and songs and kindness. All of you mean so much to me and it was so nice to hear from you!

After we had lunch, the three of us watched the movie Hello Dolly starring Barbra Streisand and Walter Matthau. This was another trip down memory lane and stirred up a lot of memories for me.  I was in the musical  production of Hello Dolly at our community playhouse in the summer of 1984.

It meant a lot to be in this show since a few months before I had been injured in an accident. Another friend and I were run over by a car and a third friend was bumped by this same car and flew through the air. After the accident, I was home from school for three weeks because of injuries all over my body – including having my braces come out (thank the Lord for those or I would have lost the top row of my teeth).

While watching this movie, I thought back to that time and the fact I was so glad to dance in a show after having been hurt just a short time before. I remembered some of the lines word for word and a few of the songs as well.  I mainly was thanking God for me and my friends and the fact that none of us was badly hurt. What a miracle! And watching my son enjoy the music and costumes and dancing and the actors ride on a train added something very special. Needless to say, happy tears were shed!

After that the three of us met my parents for dinner at a Japanese restaurant – some of my favorite food. That was really nice and a fun evening. Then another member of our family joined us and we then came back to our house and had cake and opened presents. Yesterday wasn’t the first time I had celebrated.  A few weeks ago, my cousin and I had a joint birthday party where I received some other very nice gifts and had wonderful times with family. And since then, my son Ian has been singing for me and wishing mommy a happy pre-birthday!

Ian helped me blow out my birthday candles after singing Happy Birthday dear Mommy, happy birthday to you. That on top of the rest of my day was the (pardon the pun) icing on the cake. I am so blessed and so thankful for all of these wonderful people who I know. You all rock!

I am in my mid-40s now and truly appreciate and understand the importance of friends, family and the time I spend with special people in my life. Each day is precious and a real gift.

Thank you Lord for another amazing trip around the sun and another great year full of life, love, loss, and much happiness. I wonder what new adventures await me between now and my next birthday.