Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas- Day 9: The Note

Do you remember what you got for Christmas from your husband last year?
Think about it...
I remember... he got me a pair of beautiful pearl earrings.  I was so surprised.  I had really wanted a pair of real pearl earrings for awhile, but hated to ask for them.  There is something so timeless about a pair of pearls.  Every Southern Belle needs a pair.  (We actually plan on getting Aubrey Lane a tiny set of pearl earrings for her first birthday.)  The sad part of this-  I wear these pearl earrings almost everyday, and I still had to stop and really think about what Lane had given me for Christmas last year.
Well this Christmas, money is way tight. It was just an expensive year for us.  Private preschool, a new baby with new baby needs, a ridiculous gas bill (can I get an Amen)- all for a family spoiled by overtime pay.  And with the economy being so shaky, Lane is not even getting 40 hours a week. Don’t get me wrong; we are by no means starving or doing without, we have just had to buy needed, not wanted, gifts for Christmas. But truly we don’t NEED anything. ;-)
(I debated even talking about this, but if I make this blog out like I’m some perfect person with this perfect life, I’d be down right lying!  I want my blog to be “real”, ya know.)
Yesterday, I got a sweet reminder that loving each other and simple acts of kindness throughout the year is the greatest gift we can give one another.
When I got home yesterday, I found a note from my husband in the door.

"I got a surprise for you! Check the sewing room!"

"Keep looking! Try the junk food cabinet!"

"Not here! Turn around & check the ice box!"

"Happy I Love You Day!  Here's a gift from me to you!
I love you!"

He bought me a fountain drink.  (I’m quite addicted to carbonated beverages.)
This year we may not have a lot of money to buy a lot of Christmas presents we don’t need.  But I guarantee you that 10 years from now I will still remember this very sweet sentiment.  I’m currently brainstorming ideas to return this sweet gesture.
Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas- Day 6, 7, & 8: A Christmas Collage

Okay..  I apologize for slacking on my blog series.  I have been unbelievably busy the past few days.

Honestly, I feel a little guilty for actually sitting down with my laptop to write a blog post.

Since I missed a few days, I'm just going to do a little "Christmas Collage" to catch up and actually finish on Christmas Eve now.

Day Six: Christmas Card

So I love sending Christmas cards.  And I LOVE receiving Christmas cards in the mail.  To look over and see my Christmas tree full of Christmas cards sent to me from my next door neighbor, an old friend in Tennessee, a beloved family member, or even a bloggy friend in Maryland just makes my heart happy.

(Rabbit trail: I don't think that we send actual mail, snail mail- you know the stamped kind, enough anymore.  It's such a sweet surprise to see a note in the mail from a friend and not just a bill or sale paper.  I'm going to try to send more mail this year.)

I usually plan the Christmas card in advance, but this year, I still have some to mail out.  Maybe they'll reach the recipient by New Year.

It's not fancy, but these were the pictures on our Christmas Greeting.

Getting a decent looking picture of all of us was a total nightmare.  I had several family photo sessions and finally got the pictures by editing, editing, and more editing.

Day 7: Candlelight Worship Service

If you remember my post on traditions, you'll know what this is about.

Every year, the last Sunday night before Christmas, our church hosts a Candlelight Worship Service.  We worship outside, no matter how cold, with our candles; and we usually have some some special "treat".  We've had a snow machine in the past and the last couple of years, we've had fireworks.  We have gone for the past four Christmases.  

Well this Christmas was no exception.  It wasn't too cold so I decided to keep the kids with us.

These pictures were taken with my hubby's iPhone.  I have a really nice camera that never has a memory card in it :-(

Regardless, the night was special as we had two testimonies given.  One from a lady I am so honored to call "friend".  I recorded it, but it won't fit on Vimeo.

Day 8: "Joseph's Lullaby"

I sing make a joyful noise in our church's choir.  I have enjoyed being in the choir so much.  I love all the members.  My church is a family, but the choir is my immediate family.  My husband as well as my mother in law, father in law, two of my brother in laws, and one of my sister in laws also sing in the choir.  It's a family affair ;-)

Did you know that my hubby is also a terrific singer?  He actually had a solo in our Christmas musical this year.  I've got that recorded as well, but it's also too large for Vimeo.  I'd love to share it  if I could.

Anyway, this year, one of the songs in our Christmas musical was "Joseph's Lullaby".  It was a beautiful song sang by the tenors and basses in four part harmony.  It really sets in the reality of our Savior coming as a human baby and from His earthly parents' perspective.  I can't hardly listen to it without crying.  I actually had to pull over the first time I listened to it.  

Go to sleep my son
This manger for Your bed
You have a long road before You
Rest Your little head.

Can You feel the weight of Your glory?
Do You understand the price?
Or does the Father guard Your heart for now
so You can sleep tonight.

Go to sleep my son.
Go and chase Your dreams.
This world can wait for one more moment.
Go and sleep in peace.

I believe the glory of heaven
is lying in my arms tonight.
But Lord, I ask that He for just this moment
simply be my Child.

Go to sleep my son.
And baby close Your eyes.
Soon enough You'll save the day,
but for now, dear Child of mine,

Oh my Jesus,
sleep tight.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas- Day 5: Early Christmas Presents

I have been on the hunt for a white wooden highchair, or at least a wooden highchair that I could paint right.  And I know that beggars can't be choosers, but I really wanted one with a sliding tray.  I really didn't care- old, new, used, whatever.  No luck anywhere.

Then, a friend of my husband's from high school (she also happens to be one of my Facebook buddies), Autumn, who refinishes furniture making it shabby chic posted a picture of a high chair she had just refinished.

It. Was. Perfect.

It was wooden. It was white.  It was distressed.  It had a sliding tray.  Did I mention it was perfect?

Guess who went and bought it from her the next day?  

I was excited to get and visit her and her sweet babies and I left with a treasure!  

Isn't it pretty?  I can just see my little rosy, blue eyed beauty sitting in it this spring.  And pink balloons tied to it for her birthday!

We also got another early Christmas present yesterday and it was very, very special.

Yesterday we saw Jude's cardiologist.  You know that guy we used to have to see every week.  
Well he said all the measurement readings from Jude's scan yesterday looked NORMAL! 
No concerns.  No worries.  

We are going to continue seeing him once a year unless a problem arises.  And we are going to continue on the plan of letting Jude grow out of his heart med dosage. 

The cardiologist was also very happy to meet Miss Aubrey Lane.  He did a scan on her before she was born this spring, in case you forgot.  He was also the doctor who was very encouraging in our desire to grow our family.  

He told us that Jude looked awesome.  And that we were doing an great job taking care of him.

I remember feeling like I was going to hyperventilate every time I walked into that office. However, yesterday we floated out of there on cloud nine.

Praises to our Father who has touched and healed Jude's heart!!

Have you gotten or given any early Christmas presents?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas- Day 4: Christmas Cuties

Some posts don't need any words at all!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas-Day 3: Traditions

Before I get started, am I the only nerd that sang "Tradition" in my head from "The Fiddler on the Roof" when you read the post title?  Probably so, lol. 

Who doesn't love a tradition?  Especially a Christmas tradition.

I am such a creature of habit, though.  I like doing the same things on the same time and same day every year.  

I. Love. It.

In a world that is so unstable and full of heartache, I want to provide my children with as much stability and security as possible.

Of course the best way to provide that is to raise them in a Christ centered home.  
But you can also provide lots of traditions for your family to depend on every year.

The point of these traditions is to make memories.  When I am old and gray and my children are busy raising their own children, those memories will be completely priceless to me.

Well we have one solid Christmas tradition that Lane and started on our first Christmas when we were dating.

Every year we decorate the Christmas tree and order pizza.  Then we watch a Christmas movie- usually "Elf"; however, this year we watched the SEC Championship game.

See?  It's so simple, but something just makes my heart smile when the tree goes up and Lane automatically asks me if I want him to go ahead and order the pizza.

(It's a little bare, I changed our whole Christmas colors scheme this year)
This year, we started putting our Christmas cards we receive on the Christmas tree.  I think it looks very sweet.  And Lane likes it too.

We have another little tradition that we do every Christmas Eve before we head to Lane's family's house.  While we are all dressed in our (coordinating) Christmas best, we take pictures in front of the Christmas tree.  I love to see how we've changed over the years and how my babies have grown.  
We also participate in our church's candlelight Christmas service every year the Sunday night before Christmas.  It's such a special time to share with our church family.

And as you read yesterday, we also introduced Wilbur, our scout elf on the shelf, this year.  I can't wait to have so much fun with him.  I have already decided that sometime right around Thanksgiving every year, we will have a special breakfast to welcome Wilbur back every season.

These are just a start.  I know that the best traditions and memories happen on their own.

What are your family's traditions?

A Reply for Santa..

After posting Day 2 of my Twelve Days of Christmas series, I got only two responses.
However, two responses were all I really needed.

If you missed the post last night you can just click here to read it.

Back to the responses- I'm posting the second comment first. It was written by a friend from my hometown, Whitney, doing her best to raise two little girls in a Godly manner.  

I wanted to share her comment because it offers a practical way to combine true Christmas meaning and Santa- plus the gift giving tip!  EXCELLENT! 


this month- after our girls say their prayers each night we follow up on the true meaning of Christmas and how we should focus more on Jesus and why he was born more than Santa, elves, snowmen, etc. 
I have also tried to incorporate the ''Baby Jesus'' rule...3 gifts were given to Jesus, so 3 is good enough for them. That makes it a little easier for me not to go overboard and go to crazy with gifts. 
Hope that helps!!
*Plus, they think Santa works for Jesus, lol.”

The first response I'm posting next, was from a very sweet sister in Christ, Melanie, who has raised four children in a Christian home.  I admire her faith greatly.  When she shared her comment, I thought that it was so elegantly put that it needed to be shared, because maybe, just maybe I am not the only Christian mom on the fence about Santa.

“Loved your post. I understand both ways also. With my sons I was a little more anti Santa. I was a rather new Christian and still caught in a lot of legalism. I did take them to see Santa and took pictures with them but never told them he was real. They always knew where their presents came from. Years later and a little more balanced. I did things a little different with my twin girls. They took pictures and I left presents unwrapped for them say Santa doesn't wrap. After that they knew the unwrapped gifts were from Santa. Not sure when they finally realized Santa wasn't real but it was fun to pretend. God gave us an imagination and pretending is part of childhood. Which ever way each family chooses to handle it is a personal choice. There is no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus. As long as we teach them more about Jesus and His birth than Santa I think we are ok.”

Did you get the most important part of that comment?  

"There is no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus."


I think, even as steadfast Christians, we need to be reminded the simple truth.  I know I did.

Do you have an opinion you would like to share?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

12 Days of Christmas-Day 2: Do You Believe?

To Santa or Not To Santa?

Okay... Today's post is a little late.  (I didn't promise they would all be posted in timely fashion) Anyway- today's topic is more of a thought provoking question and maybe a little advice for a mama on the fence about a big subject..

I grew up in a home where we believed in Santa.  And, well, my husband grew up in a home that didn't talk about Santa.  So therefore, we are not both on board for either route. 

 I don't know what kind of relationship you have with your spouse, but I have a hard time doing anything with my family if my husband and I aren't 100% on the same page.

In case I haven't been obvious enough about it in my former posts, let me just boldly state:


and well I've noticed a trend that a lot of Christians don't teach there children to believe in Santa Claus because it can distract them from the true reason for Christmas.  Or about lying to their children then later having to traumatize them when they reveal that Santa never brought them toys.  

While all that is understandable, I still have a lot of Christian friends that do play the role of St. Nick in their homes.  And I think I want to have a Santa believing home as well.  I mean, I figured out that there was no Santa on my own and I was not traumatized by it at all.

So here are my questions to my Christian families:

Does your family believe in Santa, and your reasons behind your decision?
If you do teach Santa, how do you make sure that Jesus is still the main attraction?

And of course if you do believe in Santa, you have these cute little guys to add to your tradition now.

His name is Wilbur.  You all know why :)

I jumped on the bandwagon.  I couldn't resist.  I love, love, love traditions.  And having a cute one to do with my children is going to make so many good memories to share with them when they aren't so little anymore.  Maybe do with their own families.  I would love to someday see my grandchildren doing something I did with my own babies.

Which brings me to tomorrow's post...

I love 'em.  I want 'em.

I'm going to be sharing one that Lane and I have started on our own.  And rather it's been done for generations or started with you, I want to hear yours too!

Hoping your Christmas is being very merry!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas-Day 1

I have decided to do a twelve day blog series for Christmas.  Traditionally, the twelve days of Christmas start on Christmas day.  While I just love tradition, in modern days Christmas season ends with the passing of Christmas day.  So I'm starting now and will finish up the day before Christmas Eve.  Isn't that funny- that we have completely swapped the celebration times of the Christmas season.  

Anyway, everyday will have a different Christmas topic: sentimental Christmas memories, a Christmas recipe, a craft, or maybe an inspirational message God put on my heart.  I don't have a schedule- I'm just going to wing it! So here we go.

Favorite Christmas Memory
a sentimental post

As a child, I'm sure I had plenty of happy Christmas times.  However, all of that has dimmed greatly in the presence of an event that would change my life forever; the birth of my first child and my first Christmas as a mommy.

Jude's arrival in mid October of 2007 changed our lives completely.  The birth of any child changes lives, but the birth of a special needs baby goes beyond that.  Life is harder, but moments are sweeter.  

It's very hard to describe but I'll try.  

You see, when you face the tough reality that God has chosen a much different path than you had planned for yourself, a path that seems much more difficult, you have to surrender and truly put your joy in the Lord.  You can't just pretend to have your joy in the Lord when things are going good.  It has to REALLY be there.

When this happens- really happens, memories are made differently.  At least they are in my experiences.  

During the moment a memory is in the making, you have to stop and push all the negative to the back and highlight the sweet moments.  In this process, the ordinary moments become extraordinary and everyday events become precious memories. For example, instead of enjoying certain moments of an occasion, you are thrilled that the occasion occurred at all.

All this leads me up to my favorite Christmas memory.

The day we brought Jude home from the NICU the first time.  He was almost eight weeks old.  And in the world's standards, it wouldn't have been that great of a homecoming.  He came home with a feeding tube, scars fresh from surgery, and a daily visit from a home health nurse.  

But MAN, were we so excited to finally bring our baby boy home!!

To bring him into any room we wanted without the hassle of tubes and wires.  To be able to bring him places with us like church or his grandparents home.  To be able to hold him whenever we wanted without the permission of a nurse or doctor. It was so exciting!

On our way home from the hospital, we decided to get our very first Christmas tree as a family. We stopped at Home Depot and picked out a pretty little tree.  Then we came home and put nothing but white lights on it.  Then we sat Jude in his boppy in front of the tree and he was just amazed by all the lights.  It was wonderful.

There was nothing exciting about the day, nothing fancy about the tree, but it is one of my favorite Christmas memories.

Christmas 2007
This is not a photo from that day, but a picture from our first Christmas as a family.

What is your favorite Christmas memory?

Another wonderful Christmas memory can be read about by clicking here.