Today I am Thankful

Today I am Thankful

Last week when I was at Disney I got to meet a couple of y’all and that was wonderful!  I love meeting you all in person and getting to chat with you.  Each of the ladies I met asked me the same question that many of you ask me, “How are things going with your daughter?”.

I have stayed away from this subject on the blog for several reasons.

  1. There really isn’t anything to tell.  We don’t hear from her and know very little about her life.
  2. It is painful.  I like to be positive and encouraging here, but I want to be honest.  This is a very hard subject for me and frankly I just don’t like to talk about it.
  3. The haters.  It is a sad, sad world out there and people sure do enjoy tearing others apart.  Every time I mention anything about my hurt over this situation people come out of the woodwork to throw stones at me and it’s just so dumb and mean.  I simply don’t want to dredge up the crazy.
  4. The very, very limited accessibility we have with her is a precious treasure to me and I don’t want to lose that by saying anything that would hurt her in any way.  Sometimes you just need to keep quiet and pray, so that’s what we’re doing.

But I know that many of you care about us and wonder how I am.  I get asked about it several times a day, and your tenderness has been a blessing!!!

Here’s the answer: I am really, really sad, but I am OK.  In fact, I am finding places of joy and peace that I never knew existed before because I never needed it so much.  I am learning humility and hope and trust in the God who knows exactly what we need.

I am still working on some other lessons I need to learn, like forgiveness and confidence in who I am in Christ without being affected by what other people think.  Those 2 things, yeah, not easy.  I read once that if we won’t forgive someone else then we don’t fully understand the depths of our own depravity.  That really helps me remember that I am no more deserving of forgiveness than anyone else, no matter what they’ve done.  The Bible is clear on that.  But honestly, there are a few people that my flesh would rather never see or hear from again.  Just being real, not saying it’s right.

God is even using that battle to grow me into a stronger, wiser, more valuable member of the Kingdom.  I do want that, even though it hurts like H-E-double-hockeysticks.

This week, as we move into the holidays I am fighting the grief again.  My heart breaks daily and God beautifully mends it every single time.  He often uses you all to be His messenger of love.  Those of you who have sent me cards and messages, you have held me together.  Every note of encouragement is a healing balm to me.  Isn’t it amazing how you find out who your true friends are through these kinds of trials?  I have been shocked (and saddened) at who has been hateful and even more surprised at many who came out in force to stand firm by my side.  Those people are my earth angels (great, now I’m picturing Marty McFly from Back to the Future and that song “Earth Angel”).

God uses our suffering for our good, and knowing who you can really trust is a very good thing!  I have been so, so grateful for that.  And He has shown me where I am strong, thickened my skin, held me up in times of trial and proved to me that I can survive what I would have thought would kill me.

OK, I am reading back through this and it sounds like a real downer.  I don’t want to leave you with anything but the tremendous hope and gratitude that I have in what God can do and how great He is to use my hardships to help me and the people I love.  Nothing but good will come of this trial, that I am sure of.

Here are a few things that I am so, so thankful for…

  1. He has lovingly removed some toxic people from my life.
  2. He is teaching me to forgive, which is my biggest challenge.
  3. He is showing me where my value lies, which is in Him!
  4. He is making me more loving and understanding.
  5. He is giving me new friends who are trustworthy.
  6. He is strengthening my relationship with my other kids (this part has been SUCH a blessing!)
  7. He is teaching me blind trust and giving me that kind of joy that only comes from the Holy Spirit and has nothing to do with circumstance.
  8. He has strengthened my marriage through this, when it could have easily gone the other way.
  9. He has blessed my business, how amazing!!!
  10. He has give me the opportunity through this to encourage thousands of you who are going through a similar trial, which is an incredible gift to me.

Yippee!!  Look at what a great list that is! I hope that encourages you to be thankful this week and for whatever God is doing in your life.  It can get really hard, but oh so rich with blessings along the way!  Make your own list and see what great things God is doing.

Happy Thanksgiving!  May the joy of the Lord be your strength!


A Wonderful Holiday!

A Wonderful Holiday!

What a wonderful holiday! Our Thanksgiving was about as perfect as I could have imagined.  The food was amazing, the fellowship filled my cup.

The kids and I spent a couple of days getting the house ready.  We needed 3 long tables to fit everyone, so we took one of the couches out onto the front porch to fit a table in the living room.  My cats thoroughly enjoyed that.  It took them about 5 minutes to discover the soft, clean surface to spread out on and take over.

I used fresh flowers, candles and small pumpkins on the tables to make them festive without having tall, distracting centerpieces.

The dining room was also ready for the guests to arrive (in case you’re wondering….those little brown things on the tables are acorns).

After we ate our enormous meal and lots of pie we played Taboo.  The kids hung around talking and playing music while the adults enjoyed the guys vs girls challenge.  I don’t want to tell you who won.  It would humiliate one of the teams.  Mostly mine.

On Friday my four daughters and I left the house at 5AM to hit the sales.  This is our 4th year to go Black Friday shopping.  While it’s completely exhausting, we really enjoy the time together.  Our first stop is always anthropologie.  My girls all love that store, but the prices are WAY out of our reach.  Their Black Friday sales are great.  We got a bunch of things and I only spent $30.  Woohoo!

Once we got home I slept for about 3 hours.  Frankly, I think I’m still recovering.  I don’t bounce back from sleeplessness like I used to.

The rest of the weekend was spent sleeping, pulling out the Christmas decorations and filling shop orders.  On Saturday night we all got together to put the ornaments on the tree in the living room.  There are so many of us that the kids stand in line and wait for James to hand them an ornament with a hook attached.

Yes, they will need therapy when they grow up and realize that most people just pull the old ornaments out of a box and hang them on the tree without standing in line.  They’ll be waiting their turn and suddenly notice they’re the only ones not just grabbing decorations.

Sorry kids.  Our Christmas traditions aren’t necessarily going to translate to your adult lives.

Sunday was nice.  Easy.  Restful.  I’m looking forward to spending time with my kids over the holidays in the shop filling shop orders.  We talk about our customers and pray for them.  It’s a really sweet time together and all of the kids get involved in some way.

We are all glad that Christmas is upon us and ready for the rush and anticipation.

I hope you all had a WONDERFUL holiday weekend.  I’d love to hear what your favorite thing was that you did!


Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving from our house to yours!

Give thanks to the Lord,

for He is good;

His love endures forever.

Psalm 107:1

Front and Center

We have been slowly cleaning up from Thanksgiving.  Usually this is a quick job for me, but I had so much other work to do that I left it to the kids.  Kids’ cleaning time is measured in something like dog years.  How long would it take me?  30 minutes.  That’s 3 hours in kids’ cleaning time.

Yesterday a friend stopped by and as I was escorting her into the house I realized we had developed a trail between the incoming Christmas decor and the outgoing fall decor.  It looked like we were living in an episode of Hoarders.  Am I the only one with a love/hate relationship with that show?  I am fascinated yet disgusted at the same time.

Anyway…..we needed to clean it up.  So I called out, “Everyone front and center!”  The masses came rushing in from all directions to see what was going on.  I don’t call front and center very often.  I quickly explained that Mommy was not doing well with the big mess in the house and we were all going to work as hard as we could for 15 minutes.  When I say “GO!” just start putting things away until we are down to a pile of Christmas stuff on the school table.  I clapped my hands and we went into action.

In 15 minutes it was done.  My burden was lifted.  I’m pretty sure I heard angels.

Today I will be putting the finishing touches on the Christmas decorating and list making.  Gift lists and cookie making lists and party lists and general what-we-need-to-survive-the-holiday-season lists.  Just thinking about it is enough to make me call front and center again.

Plus I have the kids’ gift exchange to work on.  They draw names, but don’t tell who’s name they drew.  It’s all very hush-hush and I have to find the time to take each child shopping without the others knowing where we’re going or who we’re buying for.  It isn’t easy to go on 9 individual shopping trips plus do my own secret shopping in less than 4 weeks.

Now that the fall has been swept away I’m ready for the challenge.

But I may need a nap first.


I Can’t Wake Up

I Can’t Wake Up

This post won’t have the usual magic.  I’m too tired.  How do I sum up the exhaustion, yet splendor, of the holiday weekend?

The first challenge was figuring out where to seat 24 people for Thanksgiving.  I didn’t want to stick little boys at a table in the kitchen.  You never know what kind of trouble that can lead to.  So we turned our dining room into a four star restaurant.

Four stars because the food was delicious, but the company was even better!

Adults and kids mixed at each table.

We ate and laughed, talked and played games.  Doesn’t get much better than that.

After everyone left I went straight to bed because the girls and I were planning to get up at 3AM on Friday, drive to the big city and shop til we dropped.

Here’s what I learned from that experience:

1.  I am too old for this stuff.

2.  I run out of energy about 3 hours before my girls do.  They were dragging me around by 9 and by 11 I was begging them to push me in the stroller.

3.  It was worth it.  We had such a great time and we found some A-MAZING deals.

Then the very next day, as if the weekend hadn’t already been full enough, was Faith’s birthday.  It was a day of celebrating and dining out and playing games.

By Sunday I was behind on filling shop orders, so we worked our fingers to the bone making burlap stockings and various other adorable items.  It was all too much for one weekend.  Every time I tried to write a blog post I would fall asleep.  If I stood still for more than 5 minutes I would feel myself nodding off.

Even still…..I can’t seem to wake up long enough to pull a sentence together.  Maybe next Black Friday we’ll get up at 5 instead.  Mommy needs her beauty rest.

I hope you all had a mah-velous weekend.


What You Have to Say

Oh MAN!  You guys are so amazing!

You leave me the best comments.   It juices up my batteries every day.  Thank you!

Deanne says she is going to declutter her whole house before she decorates for the holidays.  Wowsa!  Deanne lives in Australia, so I’m going to assume that living on the other side of the world has affected her brain.  I mean, she’s upside down all of the time!

Rosalie sent me a link to her blog, Tutorial Phone Book.  It’s FULL of adorable, affordable Christmas decoration that you can make.  She’s gathering them from all over blogland and there are some unbelievably clever people out there.  Thanks Rosalie!

Mrs. Manley suggested making tiny book wreaths as ornaments.  I’m all over that one Deanna!  Terrific idea!

Leslie, the Homemaker pointed out that she and I should be neighbors because we have the same style of decorations and then we could trade things around.  Trading things is a fabulous free decorating idea!

However, I discovered this morning that trading probably won’t work for me.  As we were unpacking the Christmas things I said to the kids, “Wouldn’t it be fun to trade our giant candy canes and wreaths with someone else so we could have different things in our yard?  We could have different decorations each year!”  And for some reason which I do not understand…they all went into hysteria.  “Mom NO!  We LOVE the giant candy canes!  They are OUR family tradition!  We love our things!  Please don’t trade them!”

Oh well, Leslie.  I guess I’m stuck with my old, falling apart Christmas decorations.

Let’s not even discuss what happened when I told them I wasn’t going to put up our stockings this year.  Wailing and gnashing of teeth would be the best way to describe it.

Here’s the thing.  Our stockings are a hodge podge of mismatched and cheap.  They are different sizes, different styles, different colors….and they look messy.  I was going to just do something crafty this year in their place.  I’m still not putting them up because, let’s face it, I am the queen.  But I am realizing that I need to prepare myself for constant complaints.  I’ve already heard one kid cry out, “I miss my stocking!” and we haven’t even finished unpacking the decorations.

As for my Thanksgiving meal, thank you all for your great advice.

Sherry over at No Minimalist Here said to bake the turkey and ask the guests to bring the side dishes.  Hmmm…the problem with that is, how do I control everything if I don’t cook it myself?  Oh dear, I obviously have issues.

Melissa at Those Northern Skies said she’s making a crock pot turkey and Stove Top Stuffing.  Stove Top Stuffing Melissa?  Really?  Is that even real food?  But I must say, Melissa made the cutest ornaments out of spice lids, so I will still listen to her, but not about stuffing.

And Michele sent me a whole plan….

Cook everything Wednesday (except mashed potatoes)! Make a schedule for Thursday to help keep your sanity.

Put the turkey in Thursday morning. Start potatoes boiling 45 minutes before turkey is done. When turkey comes out to “rest”, put all your other dishes in the oven to reheat. Does your husband carve the turkey? If so, while he’s carving, make gravy. If not, get the gravy going then carve. Have a child mash the potatoes. Put turkey on a platter, gravy in a boat, and potatoes in a bowl.

Voila! You’re done & everything is warm and ready for the table.

And make a list, like me, for the side of the fridge so you don’t forget to put anything out!

Michele, you make it sound like the birds are chirping while you are cooking and nothing ever boils over on the stove.  Here are my questions….how do I KNOW when it’s 45 minutes before the turkey is done?  What if some of my serving dishes can’t go in the oven?  Have a child mash the potatoes?  Really?  So lumps are OK?

I can’t wait to see what else you all have to share.  Keep the free Christmas decorating ideas coming!

You all take such good care of me.


I thought you might like to know what our Texas sized Thanksgiving will look like.

I will post after pictures, but for now….here’s a written plan.

My parents will arrive the night before. I am planning to have most of the prep work done before they get here so Mom doesn’t have to work too much. It’s her turn to be waited on. She has made many a delightful holiday meal.

We will have the linens pressed, the china washed, the onions chopped and everything ready to prepare our delicious Thanksgiving dinner.

Mom is bringing a pre-cooked turkey from some place in Houston that she swears has the best turkey ever. It’s ok with me because that means I don’t have to get up at 5AM to put the bird in the oven.

After a breakfast of coffee cake and fruit, we’ll start setting the table. I have gorgeous chargers and china. The centerpieces will be pumpkins and candles. I will use a few of my grandmother’s serving pieces along with some that I have collected over the years.

Some friends are coming to join us for dinner, which will make for a festive time. We will have a houseful of people whom we love and who love us. Did I get my whoms and whos wrong? I can never remember. Anyway….

The menu:
(it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without my grandmother’s dressing. If I didn’t make it I might have a mutiny on my hands)
Mashed Potatoes
Green Beans
Broccoli Casserole

Creamed Corn (made from fresh corn on the cob…yum!)
Deviled Eggs
Fruit Salad (don’t mistake this for healthy…this will have whipped cream and marshmallows in it…no healthy here people. It’s Thanksgiving!)
Lemon Pie
Pecan Pie
Apple Pie
Chocolate Pie
Pumpkin Pie

I’m not sure why we need so many pies. I think it’s because, for some reason, we don’t make pies any other time. It’s our one and only chance to have pie for another year, so we’re going for it.

Most of it can be prepared ahead of time, so Thanksgiving day should be easy.

The most coveted recipe is the dressing….passed down from generation to generation. It took me a long time to figure out how to make it. It’s not like I had to send it off to a lab to be analyzed. It’s just that every time I asked an aunt or my mom, the conversation would go something like this….

Me: Hey Mom, how do you make Meemaw’s dressing?

Mom: Oh, you just make some cornbread…

Me: How much cornbread?

Mom: Oh, I don’t know, just some. Then you chop some onions…

Me (pencil in hand): How many onions?

Mom: Oh, maybe a couple…whatever. Then you chop some celery….

And on it went. It took me several tries, but I finally worked out my own version of the recipe. It has become a family favorite. I’d give you the recipe, but it really is like they said….just a little of this and a little of that.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday.

I’d love to know what some of your Thanksgiving favorites are…..

This will be reposted on my second blog.