Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Going Out on a Limb ~ My Conflicts with Christmas


I risk sounding like a scrooge here, but the last few years have found me having a conflict with Christmas. To be clear, I don’t have a problem with the holiday, and certainly not with the Reason for the season. I love Christmas; I'm listening to Christmas music as I type, and I have every intention of trimming a tree and attempting to fill my home with the Christmas spirit over the next few days. But one of my struggles has to do with how most of us celebrate Christmas, and that would include me.

While we may share our bounty with a needy family or two during the holidays, and serve up soup in a soup kitchen to the homeless, I dare say that most of our time during the Christmas season is spent on doing things for ourselves and our immediate families, and I dare say that the bulk of money spent at Christmas is spent on those who don’t need a thing, including, and especially, our children.

And, now for the biggie. Can I just lay it all out here? I’m no saint, but I’m glad I never allowed my daughter to believe in Santa Claus. Oh, sure, I took her to the mall a time or two, where she had her picture made with him, and we talked about the idea of Santa Claus, but, call me Grinch if you will, I couldn’t tell her a lie, and I didn’t want her hopes and dreams to be dashed when she learned the truth later on. But more than anything, I didn’t want her to have mixed signals when it came to why we celebrate Christmas. I didn’t want her to think that all of the fun gifts she received were placed there by a jolly little man in a red suit, flying through the air using a sleigh and a pack of reindeer for transportation.

I know I’ve gone out on a limb here, and I have friends who have called me old fogy in the past, but that doesn't offend me. The truth is, when my little daughter looked up at me, with trusting eyes the color of chocolate drops, and asked, “Mommy, is Santa Claus real?” I have no regrets about answering her in an honest fashion. How could I do anything less? While the idea of Santa Claus is a good one, he isn’t the bearer of Christmas gifts, and I wanted her to know that every good gift comes from God, that He is the only reason for the season, that He is the only reason we are able to give gifts to each other.

Children are the purest forms of human beings, and they trust their parents to tell them the truth, about everything. Allowing them to believe—to really believe—in Santa Claus cannot have a happy ending for them. True story: I once worked with a forty-something-year-old woman who told me that one of her greatest childhood disappointments was when she found out that Santa Claus wasn’t real. She still remembered how betrayed she felt when she discovered that her parents had been feeding her a fairy tale all those years. She said her heart was broken, not so much because there wasn't a Santa Claus, but because her parents had lied to her. She said it took her years to get over it and to forgive them.

I know that sounds extreme, but that was her experience, and it only confirmed my belief that parents should always tell their children the truth, even when it comes to Santa Claus.


***


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

November Blessings ... and Photos Galore

November has been filled with blessings, and we've still got another week left, but in case I don't get around to blogging between now and then, here is a look at a few of mine. I should warn you, however, there are tons of photos.


I blogged earlier about The Man and I taking a trip to Branson and what a relaxing time away it was. Here we're enjoying the beauty of Lake Tanneycomo, and the gorilla was totally The Man's idea. The day before we headed home, we visited Silver Dollar City, which is always a treat and the Christmas lights, always amazing. 





But ... it was the coming home that brought the most joy, as at least one person was completely and utterly delighted to see her Memaw and Papaw, after eleven days of not seeing us. 


If you have a few seconds, this is what a homecoming should look like.




video



***

Here are more November blessings, a pictorial overload. 

You've been warned.


Memaw and Arabella, out and about on a gorgeous autumn day. As we drove from place to place, she clapped her hands to her favorite CD and randomly shouted, "YAY!" At a traffic light, I sneaked a peek at her, and said, "Arabella, Memaw wouldn't trade days with anyone in the world." I don't think she understood my words, but she let out a little giggle just the same.



Big Sis and brother-in-law have a lovely new dwelling place and we couldn't be happier about it. One weekend in November, my parents drove over to visit with them. All who could make it gathered one evening, and then again for a short time the next day. 

The evening was filled with family singing and the playing of instruments, as there is a fabulous music room in the front of the house. Big Sis is an incredibly talented organist/keyboardist, and has instruments galore in her home. Before it was over, we took turns playing something or other and enjoyed the company and fellowship of family. 

I look at my dear parents, dad is 89 and my mother is 84, and I know time isn't on our side. I'm so grateful every day for their presence in my life, for the prayers they pray for me and for making my world a much better place.


One sweet Sunday morning in November, this.
I don't know why my hair looks so black; in real life it isn't.


Arabella adores her Bubba, and we do too.


Cupcake, especially charming in another dress made by my mother's loving hands.



Cupcake with her beloved Aunt Gayle, sharing the backseat.


Memaw and cupcake, in sepia tones.


***



Perhaps the sweetest trip ever made in Cloud Nine took place last weekend. Papaw and I have been wanting to take Arabella on a short trip, just the three of us. Her mother finally said OK so we headed to the Island for two days, a perfect getaway not far from home. With her carseat securely installed, cupcake and her baby had a great view of the road.


Ba-Ba had his own special place to see the world.


Friday afternoon was warm enough to stroll along the seashore.



After checking in with Mama on her little phone, it was time for a nap. I can't even.



In the evening, the wind blew fiercely outside, the air cooling down, but inside all was cozy. Coloring with Memaw is always a favorite activity.


Saturday morning, I awoke beside the cutest bed buddy ever. After getting dressed, we headed out to IHOP for breakfast.



Dear friends, I cannot explain the tender moments that passed between us during our two days away, the kind of moments that live only in the heart. One such moment occurred Saturday morning. 

As we waited for our breakfast, Arabella sat at the end of the table in a high-chair situated between us. All of a sudden, she reached over and patted Papaw on the hand and said, "Papaw." Then she reached over and patted my hand and said, "Memaw." Then she patted her little chest and said, "Me." And I wish you could have seen the look on her precious face, a look of pure giddy love as she smiled wide at both of us. 

In moments such as these, I'm not sure how much love one heart can hold, and I don't know how we got so blessed to have such love and devotion. No matter what may be wrong in our lives, we look at her and it all fades away.



After breakfast, we bundled up against the wind and took another stroll to look at the beach. Arabella loves talking about the "wa-wa."


It's clear who the photographer was on this trip, as most of the pictures do not include me, but I was happy to oblige, because I never get tired of seeing these two together.


In the afternoon, a nap. 

I can't even.

The flash didn't wake either of them up. 😊


While the two of them slept, I walked outside and captured images of the evening sky.


After a simple supper of pizza, followed by a lot of playing and reading and coloring, we took a drive down the seawall and waited for the 10:53 PM rise of the moon. Although it wasn't a full moon, if you know me, you know I'm a lover of all things heavenly and I keep up with certain things on occasion, like when the sun is setting or the moon is rising. If you ever want to know what time the moon or sun will rise and set, just Google, "moon rise time today" or something similar, and you'll get to the "time-and-date" website. If it doesn't open to your area, there's a field where you can name the city you're in.

You'd never believe it, but what you see below is the rising of the moon out of the water. It was a black night, we were far away, and my camera is not one that can capture moons or things in the dark very well, but I zoomed up anyway and captured this orange phenomenon coming out of the water, a sight to behold.



All too soon our two-day getaway was coming to an end. I can't remember when I enjoyed anything more. It was perfect in every way, including the drive home.








Until next time, sweet friends, no matter what is troubling me, I don't want to lose sight of the blessings in my life, for they are countless.

Here's wishing you all a blessed and bountiful Thanksgiving Day.


***


Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Good Neighbor Principle : On Living a Selfless Life

Dear friends, as I write these words, it is morning. While an autumn wind raps at the windows, I put on a pot of coffee and retreat into the dining room, to the chair that I keep positioned toward the window. It is here that I come to sit and think, to kneel and pray, to listen and be still.

Outside, November’s sunlight finds its way around the trees, creating light and shadows across the ground. Such a perfect portrayal of life—light and shadows.

Last year, I wrote about our dear neighbors across the street, of the struggles of a wife with dementia and the uncertainty her husband, and their only child, faced. Little did I know that life would take an unexpected turn, as it often does. After falling a few weeks back, breaking his leg in three places, being hospitalized and later in a rehab facility, the elderly gentleman passed away on Veteran’s Day. Our hearts were deeply saddened by this news and I’m glad we were able to visit with him before we left on our recent trip. Rest in peace, Lynn. We will miss you very much. For 27 years, you were a good neighbor to us.

What ever happened to good neighbors? We live in a self-obsessed society and I view this whole concept of "me first" as flawed. The truth is, every choice we make affects someone else, and oftentimes dozens of people. It’s that pesky but undeniable “principle of causation,” often referred to as the “cause and effect” principle. What a person does is the "cause." What happens, because of what a person does, is the "effect." There is never a "cause" without an "effect." 

Consider the words of the Dalai Lama: 

"People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their own happiness and satisfaction." 

I wish I could report that my life has been one big selfless act, but, alas, there's my humanity. Mother Teresa, I'm not. I can report, however, that I agree with Audrey Hepburn who said: “It's that wonderful old-fashioned idea that others come first and you come second. This was the whole ethic by which I was brought up. Others matter more than you do, so 'don't fuss, dear; get on with it.'” 

No doubt life would be easier if we always did what was best for ourselves. How liberating that would be, but as a believer, I cannot adhere to such a philosophy, because nowhere in Scripture will you find the "me first" lifestyle pleasing to God—quite the opposite. 

Throughout Scripture, Jesus admonished us to live a selfless life, a life lived for others. He taught and practiced the doctrine of forgiving everyone for everything, even if it means 490 times in a single day. We can argue with that all we want, and find every excuse under the sun to not obey it, but the Word is clear. He said if we don't forgive others of their sins, we will not be forgiven of ours. No heaven for us without forgiving others. He taught of going the second mile, of giving without expectations, of returning good for evil, of showing God’s love by how we show love to each other. 

No matter how many Scriptures we quote or live by, if we neglect to fulfill these Scriptures, we are wasting our time, for there is no other way to live a life pleasing to God than living a selfless one.

Albert Schweitzer warned us that "life becomes harder for us when we live for others, but" —and here's the upside—"it also becomes richer and happier." Even on the hardest days, I say a hearty, "Amen!" Considering others above self brings not only rich rewards here on earth, but eternal ones await, as well.

Until next time, dear friends, as we go about these final days in November, may we ponder the words of George Eliot:





***

Linking up with Spiritual Sundays


Monday, November 7, 2016

Voting ~ We make it harder than it has to be





From the time I was old enough to vote, I've always believed that voting in presidential elections, both the primaries and the general, was a serious matter, not only a matter worth my time and energy in doing my homework, gathering information, considering the sources, and ultimately making up my own mind, but I consider voting as something that is required of me as an American citizen.

The Man and I voted early, just in case our trip turned longer than expected. And while I waited in line an hour to cast my one little vote, I imagine the crowds at the polls tomorrow will be record-setting numbers. I think you'll agree that this has been a crazy election season and I'll be glad when it's in the history books. 

While the person I voted for in the primaries did not win the nomination, I haven't wrestled with my vote not one day, not even on my candidate's worst day, because, frankly, I don't base my vote on a single person, but on policy positions, as well.

I seldom discuss my political leanings with anyone outside of family and a few friends, but I'm not at all ashamed of them either, and I've been more vocal on social media this year than in the past, for I believe this is a crucial election in our history. I have friends who lean left and some who lean right and some who just blow in the wind. I love them all and I don't base my friendships on political leanings, and I don't think I have lost any friends over politics, at least I hope not. I'm glad we live in a country where we can have our own opinion, where we can agree to disagree and, hopefully, in a respectful manner. 

If you've read my blog long enough, you may already know where I stand on some issues. In addition to being for limited government and a strong military, I am, among other things:

Pro-life
Pro-Second Amendment
Pro-First Amendment
Pro-religious liberties
Pro-border control
Pro-lower taxes for everyone
Pro-education choices for parents
Pro-Constitution
Pro-conservative judges for Federal and Supreme Court Justices

Knowing where you stand on issues makes the voting process easier, especially when you're down to only two viable candidates. 

I know there are those who will vote for a third-party candidate this year, a decision I will never understand, knowing there are Supreme Court appointments on the horizon, knowing there's zero chance for a third-party to win this election cycle. That's the harsh truth. Zero chance. Another truth is, on November 9, 2016, you and I will wake up with a new president, set to assume office in January. Either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be elected. It will not be a third-party candidate, so why vote for a candidate whose decisions will not impact your life during the next four years? Instead, why not consider the fact that the person elected as president will make choices and appoint judges in the next four years, greatly impacting our lives and the lives of our children and grandchildren from here on out? Supreme Court justices are lifetime appointments. Their rulings are final.

To not vote, as a way of perhaps revolting, or to cast a protest vote for a third-party candidate is not an option for me. I see it is saying "Oh well, the two candidates left standing are terrible, so I'll just leave it up to the rest of the country to do the work for me and decide who is my president." I see it as throwing away what little power we have as individuals to impact government.

You know as well as I do that there will never be a candidate who is perfect, nor one with whom we agree 100% of the time, but, personally I've never had any trouble picking which one of two candidates I'm going to vote for in a presidential election, and this year was no exception. All things considered, my choice for president was an easy one.

***


From the RNC:

"In the Weekly Republican Address, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addressed his plan for moving our country in a new direction from the failed leadership of the last eight years, and asks the American people to elect Republicans up and down the ticket to make that vision possible. 'I’m asking for your vote and your help in electing a Republican majority in Congress, so that we can finally change this broken system and Make America Great Again.'”


Full Transcript:
DONALD TRUMP: "For the past seventeen months I've traveled across this nation and met the amazing people of our country. Their hopes have become my hopes and their dreams have become my dreams.

This is not just a campaign, it’s a movement. It’s a once in a lifetime chance to take our government back from the donors and the special interests, and return the power to you, the American people.

Fifteen days ago, I proposed my Contract with the American Voter—a 100 day action plan to bring real change to Washington. We need change so badly. If we win on November 8, and elect a Republican House and Senate, we can finally deliver the change the American people deserve.

My Contract includes a plan to create 25 million new jobs. We will cut taxes on the middle class Americans by 35 percent, and we will repeal and replace the total disaster known as ObamaCare – it doesn’t work.

We will also immediately fix our terrible trade deals and stop the jobs from leaving our country. My Contract includes a pledge to end illegal immigration, and end it rapidly, cancel federal funding for sanctuary cities, and suspend the admission of Syrian refugees into our country. They’re coming in by the thousands, and Hillary Clinton wants to increase that by 600 percent.

We will rebuild our badly depleted military, and take care of our great, great veterans.

We will give every parent in America the right to send their kids to the school of their choice, including millions of low-income African American and Hispanic children who have been failed, so long—for generations in fact—by the Democratic politicians like Hillary Clinton. They just haven’t been able to do the job. They’ve treated African Americans and Hispanics horribly in so many ways.

We will undertake a national effort to reduce crime and poverty, and bring jobs and safety to our inner cities—finally, at last.

We will restore the Constitution and nominate Supreme Court Justices who will do the same.

At the center of my Contract is my plan to end government corruption. Hillary Clinton is the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency of the United States, and if she were to win it would create a constitutional crisis like no other. She’s under multiple federal investigations, has committed many crimes, including perjury, and she’s now facing the prospect of a federal indictment.

It’s time to close the history books on the Clintons, and to open a bright new chapter focused on the great citizens of our country.

I’m asking for your vote and your help in electing a Republican majority in Congress, so that we can finally change this broken system and Make America Great Again. And when I say great, I mean great for everyone. Thank you very much."












May God bless America and all who exercise their right to vote. No matter who is elected, the Bible admonishes us to pray for those in power, and you can be sure that I will do exactly that.

***


Dear friends, I have turned the comments off for this post, as it isn't meant to start a dialogue about politics, only to state my stance. And it isn't meant to sway anyone's vote toward my chosen candidate, although if it does, that would be great by me. Anyway, feel free to email me your thoughts. I'm not opposed to differing views, but be aware of my intolerance for disrespectful discourse.





Thursday, November 3, 2016

Postcards from the Road ~ The Ozarks in November

Last Friday, The Man and I boarded Cloud Nine and headed north. Since the arrival of our granddaughter, our travels have not been as frequent, nor as far in distance. It's not because we have to be home, as we only keep her two days a week, and her mommy has back-up when we leave, but it's because, quite frankly, being with her is more fun than any vacation. I'm not sure every grandparent feels this way, but we do. Her mommy has already agreed that, if we don't go far from home, she can go with us next trip. How fun will that be? Exhausting, yes, but so much fun.

Anyway, back to my story.



After two days and lots of winding roads, we reached our destination Sunday afternoon.


Truth be told, I would rather have gone to our favorite fall destination, Pigeon Forge, as the Great Smoky Mountains will always have my heart in autumn, but Pigeon Forge is almost a thousand miles away from home, so we settled for the Ozarks this year, specifically, Branson, Missouri a place we've traveled to a number of times in the last 25 years, and one that is 300 miles closer to home for us.




Branson has its own personality and is popular with the older crowd, although young families come here, as well. There is a lot to see and do, but be prepared to spend some money. None of the shows here are cheap, but some are worth the price and make for unforgettable memories.

While a few shows are on our to-do list, this visit is not about seeing the shows but about getting away and relaxing for a week or so, having nothing pressing, nobody needing us, and nowhere we have to be. 

Monday evening, while driving around familiar places, the sun began to set in the west. With few places to pull off the road, I was afraid I would miss it, but The Man did a quick U-turn and I jumped out just in time to capture the photo below. 


When I downloaded it to the laptop, I whispered these words to myself: "No matter what is wrong in the world, there's always the sunset."


On Tuesday, we went to see the 3:30 performance of "Moses," at the Sight and Sound Theater. Last time we were here, in 2012, we saw "Joseph," and I couldn't imagine anything more spectacular, but "Moses" was just as spectacular. As one of their billboard says: "Seas. Will. Part."


If  you're ever in Branson, make plans to visit the Sight and Sound Theater. Not only is it a gorgeous venue, but whatever is showing is worth the money and worth the time. Guaranteed.


The sets and scenes and effects are breathtaking. The actors and singers are top-notch. Since they don't allow any photos during performances, I'm only able to share this online photo with you. Amazing show.

On another note, the theater is currently casting for next season's shows, and hiring support staff, as well. With 95-million Americans out of work, perhaps you know someone who might be interested in a career in Branson, Missouri. Please direct them to the website.


After the show was over, we walked outside to see another sunset on display, more spectacular than Moses.


In other news, our sweet daughter sent us photos of our precious granddaughter, dressed as Pocahontas for trick-or-treating. Arabella would surely be called out at the University of Texas (among other crazy campuses) for being politically incorrect, dressing as a Native American, but, seriously. Give me a break, and I'm not playing. I read this article and nearly puked. How ridiculous can we be? 



What's the saying? "Imitation is the highest form of flattery." Pocahontas has never looked cuter.

Until next time, blogging friends, may the days of November be kind to you. We'll be headed home in a few days.


***




Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...