Christmas Gifts

I think I ate a year’s supply of chocolate over the last two weeks. Have I mentioned I love chocolate? I must have because I received lots of it as gifts. I ate every last bit as well as all the fudge and other luscious nummy-ness at parties and on the counters at school and church. I will have to work doubly hard in the new year to work it all off (she says laughingly as another Hershey kiss is plopped in her mouth).

Chocolate is always a good gift for me no matter what the occasion. But one of my favorite gifts this Christmas was from the hugs of former students as they visited church over the holidays. Some of these kids I only see once or twice a year, so as they arrive home from college with diamond rings on their left hand ring finger I see how quickly time is passing by.

It was also a great gift to watch some of my current Junior High students as they sang in the adult church choir. As one 7th grade girl I’ve known since Kindergarten sang out her solo among all the grownups I got all misty eyed and couldn’t stop smiling.

Spending Christmas morning with my 17 year-old niece was another great gift. Watching her open her stocking, I pictured her as a little girl again with curly locks instead of the hair she works so hard now to straighten.

But, I have to say my most favorite of all, first place winning Christmas gift this year was the fact that my church partnered with a Presbyterian Church for a Christmas program mid-month and shared Christmas morning service with a Baptist congregation. Yowsa! Imagine that, different churches with differing theologies getting together to celebrate Jesus. Whee!!  Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.” Amen and Hallelujah!

Question: What were some of your favorite gifts this Christmas?

Happy Thanksgiving

Today is Thanksgiving. Or to be more exact, today was Thanksgiving. I was in charge of all things potato: mashed and sweet. And when I say sweet, I mean sweet. Every ingredient I put in nullified any nutritional value in the sweet potato. I was going to go the healthy route but my niece requested my casserole with the mashed up sweet potatoes mixed with sugar, brown sugar, butter and other fattening things with a mixture of brown sugar and walnut yumminess on top.

I began the day with brunch at my place with a few friends. Stuffed Baked French Toast topped the menu. It was a fun way to begin the day. When I got home from dinner with my family this evening I felt like I had either been cooking, eating or washing dishes all day. But that’s okay. I enjoyed every minute.

My oldest sister Robin, the family historian, likes to make cards and scrapbook. She greeted everyone with a nice Thanksgiving card and poem. My other sister, Chrystal, you know the one who left me stranded with pancreatitis :), likes to play games. She had everyone write down a few things they were thankful for and then we had to guess who wrote them.

Most of the thankful notes mentioned family and friends. One said chocolate. And no, that one wasn’t me. I said I was thankful for my family, friends, that I had a job and a place to live.

This has been a very difficult past six months for me, but I am not complaining. God is good and I am grateful. Very grateful. Forever grateful.

Hope you had a wonderfully thankful Thanksgiving.

Question: How did you spend your Thanksgiving?

A Hot Single Turns 40

I am back at my blogging post after a brief hospital stay and recovery.  Thanks for being patient and mentioning that you missed me!
Me and Amy at her 40th Birthday
Camping Trip.
Amid fits of laughter my intensely beautiful and surprisingly funny friend waves her arm across the air like a banner and announces, “Aaaaaamy’s Fuuun and Faaaabulous Fortieth Frieeeends and Faaamily Festiiiivitiiies!!!!!”   Whee!  It became our mantra for the past few weeks looking forward to the camping trip celebrating Amy saying goodbye to her thirties. 
I say “intensely beautiful” because the men in Italy could not get enough of her.  She was even kissed by our very first waiter in Rome.  I was watching him throughout our meal and suspected he felt a little hubba hubba for our Amy.  My suspicions were confirmed when he wanted to personally escort her to the restroom, which upon her return is when he planted a juicy one on her cheek.  She was also hit on by a leather store owner as well as eyed up and down by any male with a heartbeat as she passed by. 
And she’s “surprisingly funny” because of the stereotype that beautiful women aren’t funny.  Well she is.  Funny in a sneaky, hee hee, sort of way.
Amy is a kindred spirit to me.  We both made it to 40 by “never finding a man who could stand to be as deliriously happy as we would make him.”  We are the special kind of SingleMinded people that know, though being married would be a wonderful thing, we don’t have to wait for a walk down the aisle for life to happen.
I watched her with the children of her friends attending the, “Aaaaaamy’s Fuuun and Faaaabulous Fortieth Frieeeends and Faaamily Festiiiivitiiies,” and knew she was making an impact on young lives.  I saw the respect and admiration of the husbands in attendance knowing she had built in handymen, heavy-thing-lifters and advice-givers when needed.
I also know she has a lover of her soul that fills the gap.
Being singleminded, when done well, can be Faaabulous when you have great Frieeeends and Faaamily for Fuuun Festiiivitiiiies!
Question:  Do you have an Amy in your life?

A Touch Act to Follow

Daddy loves Christmas wind-up toys.
I am so blessed to still have my 93 year-old dad in my life.  Maybe I never married because I couldn’t find someone as wonderful as Bill Brown.  He is a tough act to follow.  Watching my father hold hands with mother after 50 plus years of marriage warms my heart and makes me smile. 
My parents making out during a card game last Christmas.
(Get a room!)
He is the best dad around! 
Happy Father’s Day.
Question:  What are some of your favorite memories of your father?

Let’s Hear it For Matilda

Mark and Matilda

Let’s see how I scored on my pre-Memorial Day camping trip list:

1.  Stay dry under our new tarp thingy.
Yes indeedio!  It was put to the test during a 20 minute hail storm–IN MAY!!
Our rainy/sunny/rainy/sunny weekend was sandwiched between two glorious, sunny weekends.  But I’m not complaining–really!
2.  Beat the pants off of the kids in Speed.
Sadly, I didn’t play any card games this trip.  Nor did I read a single word of a book.  Very unusual for me.
3.  Successfully dodge all the marshmallows spit at me.
As I was oh so very innocently sitting at the picnic table I noticed a few marshmallows sail past me, and I hollered, “We’re under attack!”  So that would be a no.
4.  Take advantage of any sun breaks and walk off all the chocolate I stressed ate last week.
Not once!!  I did take many a leisurely walk though, but I did not spill one ounce of sweat on a training walk.  Not one!
5.  Relax, rejuvenate and refresh…kind of like reduce, reuse, recycle…only different.
I relaxed as much as I could while dodging hail and combating pneumonia. 
Most definitely the funniest part of the trip happened on a walk with my friend Dawn, the instigator of building our tarp thingy.  She had seen it on a camping trip last summer and knew we must have one.  Anyway, while on the walk I pointed out an officially store purchased double sized pop-up.  She stopped dead in her tracks, gawked and said, “You mean you can BUY one of those things.”
She couldn’t believe I hadn’t at least mentioned we could buy one during the process of designing and building our own.  I just thought she wanted the joy of creating.  Who knew?  Anyway, Matilda, that’s what we named our glorious tarp thingy, is bigger, better and much cheaper than any store bought double sized pop-up tarp thingy.  Even though it does take a village to put it up.

Mark setting up Matilda

But Matilda did her job during our 20 minute hail storm.  The ground was a mid-January white but we were as cozy as could be under Matilda’s protection.  It was a proud moment.  

So I only accomplished one and a half out of the five on my list.  But that was all this single chick could handle under the circumstances.

Question:  If you knew you could make something cheaper than you could buy it, which would you choose?  Build or Buy?