Two Tiaras and a Sword

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Our Christmas in the Country (plus my sentimental ramblings)

Okay, so a few blogs back, I alluded to the fact that our Family Christmas in Louisiana was a totally different blog in and of itself...Well, here goes!

After our whirlwind trip to the great and wonderful state of Texas, we loaded up and headed to the family land in Louisiana. My grandmother who is 94, has lived there in that same spot for around 70 years. My granddaddy made his living, and supplied for his family off of the very ground that we explore on ATVs.

It's a tangled tale, the history of our family (maybe another blog for another day) but that land, that old house, that dirt road, those trees and bushes, the rocking chairs, porch swings, and even the sound of the front gate that still bears the name of my grandaddy even though he passed away some 35 years ago, all hold memories that are more precious than gold. I love to sit and listen to my aunts and uncles tell stories of when they were kids, and the things they did. They can still point out where they walked through the woods to church each Sunday. They tell of building playhouses in the woods, of slaughtering hogs for food, and of climbing trees to get away from angry bulls. And it all happened right there where they sit and tell about it.

My parents moved to Houston, TX, before I was born, so I did not grow up on or near the old home place. But I loved to go and visit, and live the carefree life of a kid growing up in the country, even if for just a few short days at a time. Still, I have memories of waking up to the sounds of my grandma, aunts, and mom in the kitchen, and the delicious aromas of bacon, biscuits, and eggs in the air. I remember walking barefooted in the ditches on the side of the dirt road after a good rain, and the feel of that red mud squishing between my toes. I remember big family egg hunts on Easter in my grandma's side yard. I remember sitting on the front porch, packed with relatives talking about the way things used to be. I remember my uncle chasing us down the hall of that old shotgun house. Back then it seemed that that hall was a mile long. I remember playing under the tent made by the quilt in progress that filled the front room. I remember one of my great aunts playing the old out of tune piano like it was a grand piano in Carnigie Hall, and everyone sitting or standing around her singing hymns. All of that, and much, much more...

So, this is the land, the heritage, that we try to go back and visit at least twice a year. At Christmas we all gather in the large garage my brother has built on the land. We visit with family we haven't seen in a year, and catch up on what is happening in each other's lives. We play Dirty Santa, and exchange gifts. We sing carols, and play games. We take pictures, and we eat. We laugh, and we cry. But most of all, we just enjoy one another's company. The company of those who know where they all came from. We can look around and see it, our humble heritage. A couple who didn't have much in the eyes of the world, but who worked hard, and raised their children to love the Lord, and to know right from wrong. A couple whose children went on to teach those things to their children, and so it continues.

I didn't have the privilege to know my grandaddy. He passed away before I was old enough to remember him. And my grandmother is one of the strongest people I know. But at 94, she is struggling with health issues. She came to our party, for a little while, and I can't help but wonder what she thought as she sat there watching all of us in that great big circle. I wonder what my grandaddy would have said, if he could have been there as well. I wonder if in their wildest dreams they would have ever imagined us all going where we've gone, and doing what we've done. I know that this time, in light of the news that Marc is now a pastor, my grandmother couldn't tell me enough how proud she was of Marc and me. If she could only know how much her words meant.

The last day we were there, we went to tell her goodbye. It breaks my heart to leave her, because I just don't know that I'll get to see her again. This time, when I hugged her goodbye, she held on tight, and said, "I don't want you to have to go." If she only knew, that I didn't want me to have to go either.

It is hard living away from my family, but God has called us here, and here is where we will serve Him. And over the years that we have been away, He has given us friends that are as close, and sometimes even closer than our families. So with all of that said, this blog went nowhere near the direction that I had planned for it to go. It was supposed to be funny, not so mushy and sentimental. But maybe I needed a release for some of all of the sentimental I've been feeling lately. At any rate, on this Thankful Thursday, I am extremely thankful for any time I am able to spend with our family, either those physically related to us, or those with whom God has given us a special earthly bond.

Let's not take our families for granted. Tell them you love them, while you still can. Ask some of your older relatives to tell you one of their favorite stories from their childhood. Tell a younger relative one of your favorite childhood stories. Tell someone how proud you are of who they are, and what they have accomplished. And let them know, while you can, that you really wish they didn't have to go.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

IFE - Identified Flying Elf and other Elfcapades (Catching up on Ruby's Antics)

Angelica gave Ruby flying lessons...and it was one of our favorite things that Ruby did while she was here. I am sorry the pictures aren't that great, but it really is hard to catch an elf in motion.

Ruby took the trip to Louisiana with us, and while she was there, she pretty much went on vacation as well.  Although she did do a few little things...

Like making elf sized donuts and little elf sized cakes for the youngest princess.

 And...while we were there, the builders finished Aunt Tanya's sink in her mud room.  The youngest princess broke it in by taking a bubble bath in it that night.  So, Ruby had a spa night, and took a bubble bath herself in the sink.  But the painters came early the next morning, and Ruby had to move before I was able to get a good picture.  But Ruby was wrapped in a washcloth, like a spa towel, and had a Kleenex on her head like a towel for her hair.

 Then, one night she dressed up in Barbie's wedding dress and married Ken.

On Christmas Eve, she helped Santa put out the goodies, and then she returned with him to the North Pole.  She will be missed until she returns to have more fun with our family next year.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Move Me Closer

Merry Christmas!  I hope and pray that you all have had a wonderful Christmas!  Our family has had a blessed day...with a few bumps in the road (one of those - "some day we will look back on this and laugh about it" - making memories - kind of Christmas days).  Every family has to have a "Remember that Christmas when..." story right?  Anyway...maybe one day I will share...

But for now, I want to tell you about one of my all time favorite Christmas songs.  To the best that I can remember, it is called Move Me Closer.  It was on a cassette tape by an artist named Evie, that I had, oh, just a few short years ago.  Okay, so just exactly how long ago is not really important is it?

Anyway...The song tells of the mother relaxing in front of the fire, after everyone else is asleep.  She hears the shepherd from the Nativity Set say, "Move me closer.  Move me closer.  Move me closer to the Child.  Let me see Him.  Let me hold His hand.  Move me closer to the Child."  She reflects on the shepherd's words, and makes them her own prayer. 

The words of that chorus have always resonated in my heart.  I too, especially in the craziness of the Christmas "I have to get dones", want to accomplish one thing.  To move closer to my King.  I want to be close enough to "see" Him.  I want to be close enough to "feel" His presence.  Now that most of the craziness is over, I want to focus on moving closer to Him. 

If you haven't moved closer to Him this Christmas season, there is no time like the present.  Before you do anything else, stop, and ask Him to help you move closer.  Close enough to "see" Him.  Close enough to "feel" His almighty presence.  Close enough so that all the commercialized parts of Christmas melt away, and it's just you and Him.  That precious baby, in a filthy manger, who lived a humble life, and then laid it down on the cross, so that you could spend eternity as close to Him as possible.

Love to all, and Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Stars at Night...

If you know me, then you know it is true that you can take the girl out of Texas, but you can't take the Texas out of the girl. It has been entirely too long since I've been to Texas. Of course this trip was super fast, but we managed to accomplish quite a bit.

On the way in, at the state line, we had to stop and take a couple of pictures...

Then when we got there, we had some time to visit with the cousins, before going out to eat some wonderful Tex-Mex.

The next morning we were up early to get across town for my nephew's college graduation. We were able to get some good pictures, and have some fellowship time after the graduation, before we headed back across town for a couple of hours of down time.

Then we got ready and headed back across town to see said newly graduated nephew in his church's Christmas play.  No pictures of this, because I didn't know if they would even let me take my camera in.  Let me just say...(We interrupt your not so regularly scheduled blog to make this public service announcement) if you live anywhere near the Houston area, it is WAY worth the time, effort, and nominal fee ($5.00) to see Second Baptist's Christmas program...WOW! It was absolutely wonderful. Our children were mesmerized the entire time. Top notch, all the way. If you missed it this year, go ahead, make plans NOW to NOT miss it next year. You will thank me.

After the program, all of the nieces, and nephews except one, went out to eat...more Tex-Mex of course! Said newly graduated nephew, now turned famous actor, invited his girlfriend to come along, and we were all glad to meet her. She was very sweet. I hope we didn't scare her to death. While we were eating yummy Tex-Mex, the oldest nephew and his sweet wife made the announcement that they are expecting a baby in July!! Exciting times! I'm going to be a Great Aunt!! Well, of course I am already a "great" Aunt (wink, wink) I'm going to be a "great" Great Aunt!!

Then home to catch a few hours of sleep before heading out to Louisiana to meet up with the rest of the family for the Louisiana Family Christmas Party...which my friends, is an entirely different blog in and of itself...

So, with the exception of stopping by the cemetery, we accomplished everything we wanted to, under that big Texas sky. And, I'll be back. Hopefully sooner than later, but most definitely in July, so I can practice my "great" Great Aunt skills.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Winter Wonderland?

Ruby missed the she decided to turn the living room into a "winter wonderland".  This is one of Ruby's favorite things to do each year. 

The youngest princess, in the middle of the mess.

The youngest princess playing in the pile of paper after cleaning it up.  She LOVES when Ruby does this.  We love making memories together that will last forever.

Tea, Anyone?

Ruby hosted a tea party for all of her friends.  The young princess thought this was wonderful!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Playing School

Ruby and Angelica found some of our flashcards, and decided to play school.  Along the way, they made quite a mess.

Ruby taught Angelica some special sounds...

Angelica taught Ruby the Bible story...

Maybe teaching runs in the family...

Friday, December 9, 2011

Sometimes It's the Little Things

Ruby made the youngest princess two glasses of very special milk...One was red, and one was green.  The youngest princess thought this was absolutely fantastic.  She asked to take her special milk to school, so we sent her red for snack, and green for lunch...or was it the other way around?  Anyway, we sent the red and green milk to school for her to show to her friends, and drink of course.  Several days later the youngest princess said, "Oh!  I forgot to ask Ruby how she changed the milk!"  I told her we could probably use food coloring to get the same effect...So, I am sure she will be taking different colored milk to school every now and then.

 I love making memories for her, and I love that the simple things that still delight her.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

No snowflakes? No worries!

The littlest princess forgot to sprinkle Ruby...and when she woke up, she was in tears because she thought that Ruby hadn't done anything.  She was excited when she went downstairs to find this note.  Ruby and Angelica worked on teaching some of the other dolls the next three verses of the Christmas story. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A VERY Busy Elf...

Whew!  Ruby was a very busy little elf!  She found the sticky notes that I bought to use in my classroom, and thought that they were Christmas decorations.  She thought she was being helpful by putting them EVERYWHERE!  It was quite exciting when the young princess woke up to find...

The living room...

And even going down the stairs...

Yes, Ruby was definitely a VERY BUSY elf!  Maybe she will take a few nights off after all that work!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Welcoming Angelica

The next morning, Ruby was joined by her new friend Angelica, the Christmas angel.  The note said that Angelica thought it would be a good idea to take a basket of goodies to our friends who had a loved one in the hospital, and were spending a lot of time in the hospital waiting room.

The youngest princess was excited to welcome a new friend.  She was also excited to work on the basket for our friends.

Here is the youngest princess with our basket of goodies.  We added Angelica just for the picture.  I am sure she is going to be a great addition to our little Christmas "family". 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Change of Heart?

Ruby is definitely a mischievous little elf.  She gets into all kinds of craziness and makes lots of big messes.  But the other night, she brought a book about a Christmas angel.  An angel that leaves ideas that help a family spread the true meaning of Christmas to others; ways to bless others during the Christmas season.

So...maybe Ruby the mischievious elf is having a change of heart...

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Catching up with Ruby

Ruby has returned for her third year with our family.  I posted earlier about her grand entrance, but haven't posted any of her antics since, because I wanted to finish out my Thirty Days of Thankfulness posts.  Now that November is over, I want to do a quick catch up on what she has been doing.
Her first night, she found the oldest princess's computer, and took several crazy pictures of herself.  She even made a slide show with her pictures.  This is one of our favorites.

The second night, she gathered several of the youngest princess's stuffed animals, and read the story What God Wants for Christmas to them.  She also taught them Luke 2:1-3, and challenged Brooke to learn those verses also.

The next night, the little princess got a little happy with the snowflakes.  Ruby found some red and green streamers, and went crazy.  The little princess absolutely loved this!

The next night, Ruby found our stash of chocolate (one of the little princess's most favorite things), and had a chocolate feast.

Last night, Ruby blew up red and green balloons.  She snuck upstairs and put them all over the floor in the princess's room.  She sure has tons of lung capacity for such a little elf!  This picture only shows a few of the many balloons.

Who knows what Ruby will do tonight.  But I will keep you posted!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness - Day 30

Wow! It's day 30! I am almost sad to see this day come! I have really enjoyed posting a blog a day about thankfulness. I hope you have enjoyed reading them as well. I hope you have been challenged to be thankful for new things maybe you had never thought about being thankful for before. I am thrilled at those of you who joined me in the thirty days of thankfulness challenge. I have really enjoyed reading your thankful posts and blogs. They have been a blessing to me.

Seriously, thirty days doesn't even scratch the surface when it comes to things we should be thankful for. We are so blessed!

So, today, for my last Thirty Days of Thankfulness post, I guess I will say that among countless other things, I am thankful that I was born and raised in America.

I am thankful that I have had electricity, central heat and air, running water and indoor plumbing every day of my life.

I am thankful that if I wanted something I didn't have, I could get in a car and drive to the store and get it.

I am thankful that I can pick up my Bible and read it without fear of persecution.
I am thankful I can share what I've learned from that Bible with others without fear of persecution.
I am thankful that I can choose where to send my children to school.
I am thankful that I can come and go freely when and where I want to go.
I am thankful that I can protect myself and my family.
I am thankful that I can vote for the official of my choice.
I am thankful that I am free to choose the church where I worship.

I am thankful that I do not know what true poverty is. I am thankful that although I may not be wealthy by the world's standards, I am rich beyond all measure in the things that really count. All because God is gracious, loving, and kind and bestows on me blessings that I could never earn, and definitely do not deserve.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness - Day 29

Today I am thankful for little things, and for more than enough.

Little things like:
The words, "I love you"
Small surprises
A text from a friend
The chance to help someone
A compliment
My husband warming my side of the bed
Warm towels straight out of the dryer
Hugs from my children
Phone calls from family members
Something that makes me laugh
A listening ear

More than enough:
Blankets on my bed on a cold night
Warm clothes in my closet
Food on my plate
Books on our bookshelf
Love in our home
Wonderful memories
Of God's loving grace and mercies

Yes, I am thankful for the little things, and the things that we have more than enough of. Things that some people go a lifetime without. Things that I often take for granted, but would miss dearly if they were gone.

One of my favorite authors, Karen Kingsbury has adopted several boys from Haiti. I remember her telling that before they were adopted, those boys would get so hungry, that they would actually eat mud pies, just to ease the hunger pains, so that they could sleep. I can not imagine being that desperate, because I am blessed beyond measure. Today I have nothing to complain about, and everything to be thankful for.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness -Day 28

Today I am thankful for our new church.

I am thankful that our first Sunday there went well.
I am thankful for friends far and near who prayed for us. We appreciate your prayers more than words can say.
I am thankful for our Victory church members, and their love and understanding through the ministry changes. I am thankful for those who were willing to step up and fill in to keep the ministry there running smoothly. We love you all very much!!!
I am thankful for kind people who came to support Marc on his first Sunday, even though they usually attend other places.
I am thankful for the wonderful people we already knew, who are members, that have gone out of their way to help us fit right in.
I am thankful for the precious new people we have met, who have welcomed us with open arms. I can't wait to get to know you all better!
I am thankful that we didn't have to move homes or schools in order to begin this new phase of our ministry.
I am thankful for a Godly husband, who I know will seek God's help every step of the way in leading this sweet group of people.

I am thankful for this ministry opportunity that God has given to our whole family.
We are both excited, and humbled to be called to serve at Thorsby First Baptist.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness - Day 27

Today I am thankful for safe travels.

We have traveled far and wide over the holidays for many years, and each and every time, God has blessed us with safe travels. We do not take this lightly, and we are very thankful for God's protection.

We pray each time before we leave, or as soon as we get on the road, and ask God to protect us, and each time He has.

When we left for our Thanksgiving trip the other day, I asked my husband to stop at the store for something I needed. He was gracious to stop. We made our purchase and continued on our way. Just a few minutes down the interstate, we came across a wreck that had obviously just taken place a few minutes earlier. We talked about how that if we had not made that stop, then that very well could have been us involved in that accident. But once again, God protected us, and we are thankful.

We are thankful for God's protection, and for safe travels. And this Christmas season, we pray that you and your family have safe travels as well.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness - Day 26

Today I am thankful for fun family traditions. 

Three years ago, my friend told me that her son had an elf that came to visit from the North Pole.  The elf got to stay at their house from after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve.  Then the elf had to go back to the North Pole, to get ready for the next year's Christmas.  It sounded like so much fun, that we invited an elf to come to stay at our house.

For the last two years, Ruby the elf has lived with us from after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve.  The youngest princess absolutely LOVES Ruby (the oldest two are pretty fond of her as well).  She brings excitement, mischief, and messes into our lives (much like The youngest princess herself :-))!

So, we got home from visiting family for Thanksgiving, and Ruby had returned for her third year of fun.  The youngest princess could not wait to get home, because she just knew that Ruby would be here waiting for her...And she was right!

I am thankful for the fun that we can have as a family, playing together, and making memories that will last a lifetime.

Here are a few pictures of what we found when we came home:

We have a new family tradition that we will begin this year, but I can't tell just yet.  You will have to stay tuned to see what it is!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness - Day 25

Today I am thankful for holidays, so that we can get together with extended family.

I am thankful that our extended family sings together. I am thankful that we pray together. I am thankful that we laugh and play together. I am thankful that we encourage one another, and learn from one another. I am thankful that we watch old home videos together.

I am thankful that although we may be separated by time and distance, we can still get together on holidays and thoroughly enjoy one another's company, as if we see each other every day.

I am thankful for the bonding, and sense of belonging being a part of a family brings.

Yes, I am thankful for holidays, that give us an excuse to gather together as a family,and spend much needed time together.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness - Day 24

On this Thanksgiving Day, I have many many things to be thankful for, but today, the young prince turns 13.  I am so thankful for him, and the huge blessing that he has been to our family.

I clearly remember the day that I went to my OB for a regular check-up, and was sent to the hospital, instead of home.  I remember laying in the maternity ward, hearing newborn babies cry, and praying that my son would be safe, and that I would be able to carry him full term.  After a week in the hospital, due to pre-term labor, I was sent home on strict bed rest.  For three months, I was on medication, and was monitored from home.  Once a week, I would go to the doctor for steriod shots, to help the young prince's lungs develop.  Thankfully, God allowed me to carry him full term, and that year, he was born two days before Thanksgiving.  And although he was full term, he still struggled.  He was a scrawny, sickly little guy for a while.  But thankfully, he pulled through all of that, and is a healthy young man now.

He is my only son, and will help to carry on the family name.  He is as precious as can be.  He is very tenderhearted, and full of love and compassion for others.  He has a  huge heart for the things of the Lord.   I have seen him shed tears over lost souls on many occasions. He wants to do right, and he wants to help lead others to do right as well.  He loves old folks and young kids alike, and is comfortable talking to people of all ages.

He is interested in foreign countries, and cultures.  I would not be suprised if he goes to the mission field one day.  He is not afraid to take a stand for what is right.  He says what he thinks, and says it boldly when he knows it is Biblically based.

I know I have said it before, but he reminds me so much of my Daddy.  He has his build, his looks, his mannerisms, and his heart.  I love to watch him and realize how my Daddy must have been at that age.

He is talented in art, and has some musical abilites as well.  He is a fast learner, and like my Daddy, he can fix anything with anything (dental floss is usually his tool of choice).  I think he could write a book on 101 alternative uses for dental floss!  But if Daddy were still around, he would introduce him to the wonders of duct tape and WD-40.  When he discovers the versatility of those two tools and adds them to the amazing capabilities of dental floss, there will be absolutely no stopping him!

He is all boy, and loves being outside, hunting, fishing, climbing trees, and building things.

I love that he is growing up, but is still little in some ways.  He is independent, but still needs me.    I love when he asks to spend time with just me.  I love that he still needs my undivided attention.  I love that he is open to telling me what is on his heart.  I love that he still likes for me to rub his face and back like I used to when he was just a little thing.  He has matured so much in just the last year, that it is hard for me to wrap my heart around the fact that he is no longer a little boy.  I am amazed at what I've seen from him so far, and I love watching him be the godly young man he was meant to be.  I know that if he continues to allow God to use him, that there are great plans for his future.  I am thankful that God allowed me to be his Mom.    I love him much more than words could ever express.  I pray that the fire he has in his heart for the things of the Lord never grows dim, but continues to burn strong for the rest of his life. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you all, and a very Happy Birthday to the young prince.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thirty Days of Thankfulness - Day 23

Today I am thankful for the many coaches that my children have had. The coaches that put in long hours of their own free time, so that children can participate in a sport.

Coaches that have to plan and schedule games. Coaches that teach the basics of a sport. Coaches that encourage kids to work harder and achieve more.

Coaches that know my children's weaknesses, and work to make them strengths. Coaches that know my children's strengths, and work to make them even stronger.

I am thankful for the wonderful people that God has placed in the lives of my children as their coaches.  They are awesome people, and we are truly blessed!