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!