Christmas Comes to Hackberry Ave

Merry Christmas 2014

As I sit here waiting for my steel-cut oats to finish simmering, I wrap up my advent reading and then will myself to blog.

I see now that determining to blog 2x/week starting in December was rather foolish of me. December is Bizember!
Busy.

 

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Not only that but I’m not sure what to blog about sometimes. I have some ideas swirling around upstairs but when I imagine actually typing them out, they feel feign. Arbitrary. And, subjective.

But, alas, I come through today with a post of Christmas arriving on Hackberry Avenue.

 

Just when you thought Christmas = winter wonderland… Not so the atmospheric conditions in Texas.
I know, 5+ years uprooted it settles nice with me.

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This was our very first year to add a tree to our seasonal festive decorations. Trees are so much fun to decorate with a 1-year-old. He is his daddy’s number one fan and so therefore feels empowered to DO everything he see’s his daddy do.

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Beings our first year to decorate a tree, we only had a few pieces to add to the tree. But, we both don’t care. Rather a beautiful tree where you can actually see it then so much stuff. And, we both weren’t in the mood to suddenly buy new balls and fancy-smancy things the first year. We both like meaning and so eventually over the years perhaps our tree will collect dear and precious ornaments that have sentimental value and memories.

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To kick that vision off, the other Sunday we made cinnamon ornaments. I pinned the recipe from here and your more than welcomed to try it. I have memories of making these as a kid at Pioneer Clubs – a Wednesday night Bible clubs at a local church growing up. We didn’t have a Christmas tree as a child and so we’d hang the holiday scented shapes in the windows instead. It was super neat to actually hang them on a tree for the first time.

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Rolling out the dough and cutting out shapes together as a family was so much fun – as is anything with a 1-year-old. He L O V E D  it! This boys loves all things dough. Guess what we got him for christmas?

After they dried, and after I had a free morning, I helped Gavin paint them with glue and then shake gold glitter on top and hang them on the tree. For Gavin that was permission to touch and play with the tree.

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Ahem, child! Come away from the tree now. Listen to Momma…”
Somehow those hands find it quite difficult to stay out of the tree.

 

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By the way, I am now eating my steel-cut oats. Yummy – with an unexpected crunch. :)

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I can’t believe it’s 2 weeks minus two days til Christmas.

 

I don’t wish the time to go fast. It’s going fast enough. That’s why I like to read my advent book, The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp. She helps me get in touch with the true meaning of the season and  s l o w  down. I don’t want to not celebrate the birth of Jesus and the coming of our Saviour – He can to SAVE us. Because we need saving whether we acknowledge it or not.

What advent are you reading this year? How about one with your children? I’m on the look out for family advents!

Merry Christmas Season!

Warm and fuzzy

 

Thanksgiving Leftovers

I was so excited to see that the feature ‘snow’ is back on wordpress! I just love it! It looks so wintery! and pretty! and seasonal!

Walking away from Thanksgiving 2014, I’m surprisingly finding myself randomly, almost daily finding things I’m thankful for. I think God has gripped my heart and opened my eyes to see the real beauty found in the normal.

One day I was suddenly made aware of how efficient modern machines are like our WASHER. Could you imagine scrubbing and washing clothes like they used to in the 1800’s? No, me neither. And for that I am most thankful. Who would have time for that anyway?

That dryer is handy-dandy too when it’s 30 degrees outside and you are in no frame of mind to expose your dainty, made for warmth fingers to that kind of weather and that kind of coordination for said fingers involved in line drying pants and shirts.

Dryer? I think yes.

I love my dishwasher. You can hide out all the dirty dishes quick before friends come over and – Whoo-laa! You have a tidy kitchen!

So I’m thankful for appliances in cold December.

 

I’m also thankful for friends who love you in-spite of what you don’t have. Like Sunday night how we made last minute plans to have friends over for soft pretzels only to notice that 30 before arrival time we have no cheese for dipping sauce. Nothing like a quick text to see if a friend has some on hand. Which she did.

The whole evening was an impulsive gesture and next we were fretting 20 before arrival time when we noticed the dough wasn’t rising either. We were saying things like ‘maybe we can just order pizza….’ Everything turned out fine and I think my husband was surprised how my spontaneity actually does work! {wink-wink!} But I couldn’t have pulled it all off alone. He is defiantly my other helping half!

 

IMG_3242Hope ya’ll had a warm and friendly Thanksgiving!

We sure did!

 

 

 

A thankful life

Thanks Living

 

Undoubtedly, thankfulness can quickly be gone with the wind in our hectic lives. When we do get the chance for stillness, it’s not reflection and gratitude that fill the air but what can I do for myself that we busy our brains with or simply, we check-out. Suddenly the fourth Thursday in November arrives and we are guilted to suddenly stop and search for what we are thankful for.

That’s what troubles me a about Thanksgiving.

I’m used to everyone gathering around a family style table spread full of turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie – the works. A little bit about myself, when I was at home I started the tradition of each one taking time to share what they were thankful for and why; each year adding a different twist to the application. I was into that holiday tradition and focusing on sharing with others what you were thankful for. I wanted everyone to share something real and sentimental usually forgetting to get my own heat-felt story prepared. (Typical ENFP, desiring others to share deeply and forgetting about myself.)

Now that I’m a mom, a cook and mood setter (yes, I think most mom’s happen to have that power) I wonder if that mantra has shifted for me. See, I am realizing that pressing others to cough up an amazing thankful list or story is not what I want anymore. It’s not what I want to bring to the table yearly. It’s not the kind of mood I want to set.

I want to raise grateful kids, EVERYDAY. I want my children to grow up with hearts cultivated to give thanks daily. Not only them but me as well. I want and need a grateful spirit. Not just one day out of the year.

 

Gratitude affects our attitude

… I wrote in my journal the other day. It really does. Focusing on the gratitude in our sticky and hard situations changes our outlook, our mood, and helps us to think about the good. I’m not saying it’s a cure-all but it’s good for our minds and it gives God the glory which is what we were created for. Which he deserves. God has blessed us in so many ways but yet its the bad, difficult and ‘not fairs’ that we set our minds on.

Probing our hearts for thanks on a regular basis may not happen easily. I already hate the idea of forcing something onto my life, too. Like, ‘I gotta start doing this now!‘ Those kinds of things die off all to easily. And, it’s one more thing that I have to do – blah! I buck at that kind of living.

I want to be God inspired. God led. And move with the Spirit. I think having the desire to live a thank-filled-life pleases God. It’s His Spirit that can prompt and remind in the moment when I’m forgetting. Then God is making it happen and not me. when I try to make things happen I forget like everyone else and then guilt trip myself until I’m black and blue with shame.

This whole post I’m writing reminds me of Ann Voskamp and her book One Thousand Gifts. I recommend it if you haven’t read it yet. Her lifestyle is truly one of desiring to live a life of thanks.

Will I never have my family go around the table and each one pip up what they are thankful for? I’m not saying I won’t. I think Thanksgiving is a good reminder to be thankful. Really. Because we forget. Just like we forget the impact of Jesus dying on the cross for us. Or the significance of Jesus’ birth too. So we have days set aside to celebrate and remember. But just like the song says about ‘I wish it could be Christmas everyday‘, maybe we might wish for thanksgivingliving every day as well? What in our lives would change if that became our desire?

 

How about you? Do you find it hard to suddenly stop and slowdown on Thanksgiving Day and desperately have to find something that you’re at least a little thankful for?

Or do you make it your ambition to find things in life that you are truly grateful for throughout the year?

 

 

Having An Acorn Heart

 

We have this Red Oak tree behind our house that is gorgeous in the fall. It is gorgeous in the summer too but in the fall it turns this beautiful full autumn hue of red, which we are still patiently awaiting to see. Until then it inhabits a squirrel or two or three. We’re never certain of the number of its inhabitants but we hear and see them quite frequently. And, the boy child is eager to point them out to us when they zig-zag down tress or dart across the lawn.

Right now, that tree is busy, as busy as the squirrels. It is dropping tons of thousands of acorns all over our back yard. It’s so bad that when you walk under the tree it feels like your crunching on marbles. So, I did what any precautions momma would do to protect her family from
perceived harm, I raked them up. To which the husband almost laughed-out-loud when I
told him.


As I was kneeling over and scooping up piles of acorns with our slobbery in-my-face dog and curious boy bouncing around me I thought to myself, what could I create that is fallish and Thanksgivingish with these thing?

My sign hanging above the table needed a makeover anyway. A couple of days ago I had wrapped it with gift wrap I got in the Target $1 bins.

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Now it is my Acorn Heart.
I can’t say {I_heart_acorns} yet. But I do {heart} my creation with a hot glue gun – ha!

 

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My acorn heart hangs on a wall that I suddenly began to realize is compiled up mostly of nature-y things that I’ve collected around my neighborhood.

Cotton from a farmer down the road.
Berries from an abandoned house in town.
Nest from our tree in the front that Jason rescued for me.
The shelf from neighborhood yard-sale several years ago and the keys I found for like $.85 or something like that when I was in town. I’ve thought about repainting them but haven’t decide on a color.
The basket that the cotton hangs out in is from Wal-Mart. Probably a $1.
The chalkboard binding over there my mom picked up at Goodwill and we used them in our wedding pictures.
And the vase is from who knows where! I don’t even like it but it’s small and I like that it has a narrower top to keep things together.

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Decorating on a budget. There you have it. I wasn’t even going to write about that but you got it anyway! May your weekend be inspiring to go look outside and use what you got for free!

 

Spontaneous or Preplanned?

Would you agree that there is something scary about going into other people’s homes? Initially, that it is fearful? I don’t know why but it keeps us behind our walls, in our normal routines.
A whisper that is so strong it produces immobility.
It convinces safety is staying instead of risking and going to somebody else’s sofa and sipping their tea.

Are there safe risks?

 

I am often urged by my friend to come, stop in and see her. I want to. But I tell her she lives too far away and in the opposite direction from most of my errands and that she should come see me.

I’m not scared of my friend. She’s my friend. But it’s so much easier to just stay at home then to go out. I tell her if I had a reason to be down in her neck of the woods I’d stop in more often.

If I had a reason…

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If I was already on the road in her area to grab a few groceries perhaps or to buy dog from the Feed Store, then I’d have a reason. And for some compelling reason, I need a reason beyond spending time with her to see her?

Help! I need a reason other than her. Sound familiar anyone?

I like the idea of randomly stopping in to see people. I have occasionally planned mornings with different of my friends, including this particular one. It’s having a day preplanned to sit around dunking donuts in coffee and keeping watchful eyes on the kids that is so my thing. I can dance that jig. You should see me!

I do planned, not random.
Because I don’t know how to do random.

 

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I do like the idea of random though. I like the image of people going into each other’s houses on a whim. Gathering together spontaneously. Talking. I always like seeing everybody.

Some people are gifted at blocking out fear I believe. Either that or they are brave an don’t know it. I’d like to be more like that. More brave. More listening to what I want to do then the fear that I allow dictate my reasons. Because yes, you know it, I always need a reason for what I do.

I fault not living in my home turf as my reason that keeps me locked in my brick walls here. The fear of not being received only to look like a nerd at their front door. The fear of not being invited in. The fear of catching them at a bad time. The fear of taking up their time just to chit-chat.

With my family in my home community I’m quite certain we’d be back and forth at each others houses. People randomly dropping in on me and me going there unannounced. Going to moms almost daily and popping in on friends as I’d drive home from Wal-Mart. I can see it all playing out on a big stage in my mind’s eye. It would not be scary. at. all.

But here, going somewhere is scary.

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Because it’s {easier} to stay at home.

Jason’s family I feel free to stop in on unannounced. I do. They are family. They are an exception.

Other then my in-laws, I’d rather have people over then to go somewhere.

 

Call me crazy, but if you would suddenly stop in, spontaneously, unannounced and in the middle of my routine, I would LOVE it. I would be so honored! I would break out the sweet stuff and coffee or milk. I would settle you in my couch, give you a blanket and turn on more lights. I would ask you questions about your day and see how you are. Or we would talk on the bar stools by the bar. My second most favorite place to seat visitors.

Yes, I would love it.

 

How about you?

  • Do you like to go out to a friend’s house spontaneously or pre-planned?
  • Do you struggle to invite yourself over somewhere?
  • What are some ways to practice visiting a friend?

The Couch Story

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I truly think our child believes we party all night long on our couch.

You see, when Saturday is done and cleaned up and after we raced hither and yon, and we folded towels and washed windows and grabbed burritos for supper and swept up leftover cereal and eggs crumbs and put away our memory games and little cars and toys that were all over the floor and on the coffee table and then when we stopped the movie we started after sitting down on the couch when it’s completely dark and chilly outside with our warm tea or lattes, we pick up our yawning little one and gently place him in his crib in-spite his ‘uh-uhhs’ in response to “Are you ready for bed?” It’s after we tip-toed out of his room that we make our way back to the couch in hopes of finishing the movie that he, our little one, becomes suspicious.

You see, the next day Sunday dawns bright and warm, bursting through our windows and when we can’t stand it no longer either me or Jason head over to make the coffee. Eventually we find our way back to the sofa armed with hot steamy mugs and something sweet as Jason’s tradition that I succumbed to, along with iPad or laptop and an iPhone for me. When Gavin enters the scene staged back again in the living room, where does he find his mother and father but perched again on the couch nestled in the cushions with blankets and pillows. Exactly where he left us the night before

And as the day tarried, we land back down upon the couch during the middle of the afternoon, after a lunch of any shape or size or flavor and where either Sunday football, or reading catch-up time without interruptions or simply blessed sleep take place. Yes, on the couch. We relax, prop up our legs, bury cold toes under blankets and rest our longing to unwind bodies hard on throw pillows and on each other.

The couch beckons us in, soft and poofy, strong and supportive, quiet community at home. It’s a Sunday afternoon and where you’ll find us. It’s where we end our Saturdays and spend just about half of our Sunday. It’s where our dear child signs off with us and greets us the next day.

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And one day, perhaps when we are too old to move or care we might just stay there, on the couch, worn out and stuck, bedded down for the night. It just may be that we will, after all the years and history of our lives unfold we will stay on that dear couch of ours full of memories and then in the end full of the people who made the memories.

It’s a couch’s life in our house. He is needed and has worth. Earned high value and carries marks of use. He’s as much a part of our family as any other person. A part of our story that we couldn’t live without. A part of our story that if subtracted out wouldn’t be the same story for us, in our house on Hackberry.

 

 

Have You Not Noticed?

To Mothers, Waiting-to-be-Mothers, Caregivers, Aunts and of course, Grandmothers,

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“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!” -John 8:36

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I can’t help but catch that ‘free’ feeling as my eyes quickly trail my free-spirited toddler spinning carelessly around the back yard.

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What an liberating feeling to run.
To bolt out the back door.
To scamper unrestrained.

What a picture of freedom.

Of unbound life.

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Giggles.
Carefreeness.
Playful.
Silliness.
Energy.
Safe & secure.

 

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Being a mother I’ve willingly adopted new emotions. Children do that to a caregiver. Suddenly bursting with so many never encountered before emotions and the only one word that can explain it for me is pride. Pride drizzled with happy tears.

I can’t get over that smile. That giggle. His joy of having momma chase him. Momma who wants him.

It’s hard-core love on each part I’m sure.

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No “I’m mad at you because __” or “I’m still angry that I had to finish my peas.” He easily forgets. But bounces in the other direction hoping I’ll chase him and hugs tight when I swing him up to my chest.

I easily forget all my frustrations between us when I see him run.

This boy has been teaching me about the character of God and I hadn’t even noticed.

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God keeps coming to me. Chasing {me}.
Every. time. I do wrong.