"Language, as well as the faculty of speech, was the immediate gift of God." ~ Noah Webster

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year!!

My Blogging Year in Review complete with listings of the posts that have been read the most, as well as my personal favorites:

Top Three Blogs since I began Blogging in 2010:
1. An Open Letter to the County Fair Board - (I don’t even understand this; sometimes I just wish it would go away.  ;-)  )
2. Touched by Laughter - (My favorite post; simply because of its importance)
3. Hard Evidence - (A gift to my son.)
Top Five Blogs in 2011: 
1. More Little Things
2. And So....
3. Spending Treasure VI - The Innocent
4. Perceptions, Profiles, Politics and "Prophets"? ~ EC-5
A list of my favorite posts from each month that I wrote in 2011:

JanuaryA Walkin’ Talkin’ Country Song And Other Interesting Characters - It’s about my son, what can I say?
February – My favorite post this month: Spending Treasure VI - The Innocent
March – I have two: The Sergeant and the Gentleman: A great humorous story in which I had no part, except writing about it. And In Loving Memory of Mama.
AprilRidin' Shotgun - A post about accepting the fact that my job as “mom” has changed.
MayMore Little Things – My beloved Israel; as well as Appreciating America - "With Elation and With Tears"
June Changing of the Guard, and My List of Things to Do - Spending Treasure IX
JulyThat Which Remains
SeptemberAnd So....; The Real McCoy; I like both of these for different reasons, obviously….they both involve my sister.  And So...., because it is about a beautiful family occasion, when my nephew married his high school sweetheart…and The Real McCoy because it is about such a wonderful memory of an extremely enjoyable evening; but also, because my sister told me how much she enjoyed this post.  That really surprised me…she is not a country music fan. Hmmm... tough month for selecting a favorite…I also liked Labor Day Reflections.  Oh, and Where Were You?  Again, I like this one because of its importance.
OctoberFingernail Moon - Spending Treasure - X
NovemberWinter Joy
DecemberSpending Treasure – A Tender Touch
So there you have my Blogging Year in Review.   I enjoy blogging.  I enjoy writing.  I’m not saying these are the best written posts, they are simply my favorite.  Most of the time, I don’t even know why; probably because I feel passionately about the memories they invoke.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


I have always followed politics. I have always been concerned about what is going on in our nation. I believe that as Christians, we have a responsibility to work to keep the freedom of religion we enjoy in this country.

If Christians won’t protect that freedom, then think about with whom we are leaving that responsibility.  If Christians will not be concerned with the decline in morality in our nation, then think about with whom we are leaving that concern – or more likely lack of it. The innocent lives often discarded?  Who will speak for them? Because of these kinds of issues, I have always had a strong political “bent” that many may not understand.

It is often said our brave soldiers in uniform put their lives in danger for those that would rail against them. Our American soldiers know this and are prepared to protect all of us anyway.  God bless them!

Likewise, I believe we can make the same statement about those protecting our religious freedoms. I have always believed that there are those Christians who are blessed with the marvelous gift of evangelism – the "Billy Grahams" of the world, so to speak.  But I also believe there are Christians who are gifted to protect the "freedom of religion" in our nation and the right we have, to speak of our faith. These names will be no less known than that of Reverend Graham, but probably a whole lot less popular; individuals such as Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and Jay Sekulow, among others. Individuals such as these have worked diligently to preserve our American freedoms, and sounded alarms that awakened complacent Christianity at a time we needed to be awakened.

I find it troubling when we as Christians, do not always recognize these men for their work in the Kingdom of God.  I have never understood how we can refuse to acknowledge that these men also are doing the work of our Lord, and that they too, have been gifted from the Lord for their work.  Their contribution is every bit as important as those who strictly evangelize; for without them, that freedom to evangelize might have been lost a long time ago. Furthermore, men in these positions are not neglectful in other areas of God’s work.  They too, work diligently in spreading the Gospel; and organizations like Pat Robertson’s Operation Blessing are usually first on scene to bring aid during natural disasters across the globe, for example.

With all that said, I understand that politics does not lie in everyone’s interest. Some would rather not waste their time with these kinds of things…or they may believe in taking another direction than I do. God most likely has an entirely different office for some. I believe God would not have some distracted by such things. Instead, I believe God has freed up evangelists to do the work He has for them, while trusting the Jerry Falwell’s to do another type of work in which He has equipped them.  Basically, there are some Christians behind the scenes that actively “have the backs” of those that are gifted to evangelize.

Without a doubt, we are all commissioned to spread the Good News. This is absolutely our responsibility. There will be times we do that first hand, and there will be times that we do that by simply supporting others; for example the overseas missionary; or even the television evangelist. Evangelism is so very important! I only hope we don’t discredit, or underestimate the importance of “the soldier” who is left defending those freedoms through the nasty business of politics.

My in-box is full of messages from groups asking action against things that are taking place in our nation.  Never before in my life, do I remember such a time when so many things are going wrong! Never before have there been so many matters that require our attention so that our freedoms might be preserved.  There is so much taking place, at times it almost feels overwhelming.  There is no way one can attend to it all…and we don’t have to! And we certainly don’t have to panic; we have a God, to Whom we can turn. 

However, I also believe I have a responsibility to at least respond to some of these issues at hand; to work toward the things that I believe, as much as I am able; to respond to what God has put in my path. I do believe this is a crucial time for America, and if we are to remain the most evangelistic nation in the world, the one who is always the first to bring aid to a hurting world, now is the time we must work harder than we have ever before worked.

In the past, I have used Butterflies and Rainbows to express and share some of my concerns.  With so much taking place, and with so many things heating up, I have decided a blog entitled “Butterflies and Rainbows” is not really the best place to express some of my views and thoughts.  Really it is not fair to readers that do not wish to be involved in such things, or that might believe differently.  So, I have decided to create an additional page for the concerns I have for what is taking place in our nation.  If you are interested, you can read my posts at http://watchfrommywall.blogspot.com/.  I will continue posting at Butterflies and Rainbows for lighthearted and carefree issues of life.  Heavier posts will be at Watch From My Wall.

Either way, I hope you will continue reading at least one or the other of my blogs!  ;-)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Back to Normal

All is peaceful and still. The sun is shining brightly through my living room windows, revealing a light layer of day old snow on the otherwise brown pasture and lawn.  Though I am still in my robe, (yeah, I like cozy) the horses are fed and watered, munching contentedly on their breakfast.
Belle Amore

Everyone else remains sleeping and I won’t wake them. The holidays tend to wear on ones energy, even if they are joyous, celebratory occasions.  So my guys will get extra sleep today, before they start their new week.

My lab is now submissively lying at my feet, after fetching her new Christmas bone for me a time or two when I came in from feeding the horses.  The beagle is like the other two guys; having still not moved from his comfortable bed, complete with coverings.

It’s been a wonderful Christmas season; filled with all the things I love: family; friends; shopping; Christmas parties; church services; and even some old fashioned caroling and quiet, evening drives to see the extremes in outdoor holiday decorations. With these decorations, one can almost always tell who is celebrating the birth of our Lord, and I never seem to tire of saying, “Oh!  Look at that one!”

The weather this winter, in my opinion, could not be more perfect.  I don’t ever remember a December with so much sunshine.  The temperatures have been mild and the snow, enough to give us a taste of winter’s beauty, but not so much that we tire of shoveling and driving slick roads.
Christmas Party

I’ve heard from almost all of the people I love to hear from this time of year.  You know; the ones that you hold dear, deep within your heart, but with whom time and miles have now limited visits to only once a year – now, is that time of year.

Christmas Treat

Things will mostly get back to normal soon. Another week and “normal” will be in full swing. That would be our prayer, anyway. Having said “normal” is our prayer: Yes, I understand “normal” will not be without stress; some strife and challenges that require us to rely heavily on our Savior. “Normal” will not be without learning, lessons in life, and welcoming the unknown that arrives at our threshold. “Normal” is hopefully staying on the path our God has planned for us; working at those things for which we have been graciously equipped for just the right moment; and running the race set before us – choosing priorities in the proper order. “Normal”, we understand, will be what is best for us, if we simply “trust and obey”. Obedience and trust, we also pray, will never be ignored or forgotten.

Normal will be laughter and tears, conflict and peace; "normal” will be wins and losses; pain and joy; and probably more than a few frustrations, but which are hopefully trumped by love. With “normal” we have victory, and because of a miraculous birth and a cold, cruel cross which lead to a glorious Resurrection, "normal" is without defeat.

With that in mind, we gratefully look forward and welcome 2012 and the miraculous we find in "back to normal."

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

"The conduct of the wise men is a striking example of faith. They believed in Christ when they had never seen Him – but that was not all. They believed in Him when the Scribes and Pharisees were unbelieving – but that again was not all. They believed in Him when they saw Him a little infant on Mary’s knee, and worshiped Him as a king. This was the crowning point of their faith. They saw no miracles to convince them. They heard no teaching to persuade them. They saw no signs of divinity and greatness to overawe them. They saw nothing but a new-born infant, helpless and weak, and needing a mother’s care like any one of ourselves. And yet when they saw that infant, they believed that they saw the divine Savior of the world. ‘They fell down and worshiped Him.'

We read of no greater faith than this in the whole volume of the Bible. It is a faith that deserves to be placed side by side with that of the penitent thief. The thief saw one dying the death of a criminal, and yet prayed to Him and ‘called Him Lord.’ The wise men saw a new-born babe on the lap of a poor woman, and yet worshiped Him and confessed that He was Christ. Blessed indeed are those that can believe in this fashion!"
                                       ~ J. C. Ryle

Merry Christmas, Family and Friends!

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Tender Touch - Spending Treasure XI

We arrived early, so we decided to walk over to the coffee shop for a hot drink before service.  I simply wanted coffee, so I grabbed a cup and walked over to an empty table while Matt stood in line for a specialty drink.

As I stirred the flavored cream into my coffee, someone walked up behind me and tenderly touched me on the shoulder.  “Look at this,” he said, “Bring back any memories?” 

I burst out laughing.  It was a photo of our first grade class - just a few years ago. ;-)

 “Oh, Buster!” I exclaimed.  “You saved our class photo, too!”  I was certain that among my photo archives, I still had this photo as well as all my other grade school class photos. 

“Can you name everyone?” he said.

“I think so!” I replied, as I started at the bottom row, and named the kids that I remembered so well, even all these years later.

When I struggled with remembering someone, he helped me.  Once in a while he would say, “Oh! That’s who that is!”  Between the two of us, we named almost everyone in our first grade class. There were only two kids that neither one of us could remember.

We also reminisced about some of the kids that weren’t in this photo, but who had obviously been placed in the other first grade class at our little grade school.  For our entire elementary years, 1 – 8, in this old-fashioned, country school, there was always two full classrooms of kids the same age.  It was a fairly large group for this time, with about 22- 25 kids in each classroom.

It wasn’t long before our memories of the students changed to memories of teachers, occasions, and the school itself.  We were having a pretty good laugh, when another person in that photo joined us as well.

“Roger!”  (The names have been changed – just because)  “Did Buster show you this?” I laughingly asked him.

“Yeah, he showed me,” he replied with dry amusement; but he joined in whole heartedly with our “walk down memory lane”. 

It wasn’t long before Matt joined us as well.  “OK, you guys; don’t tell him!  Let’s show Matt the photo and see if he can figure out which ones we are.”

To our surprise, Matt did not guess correctly any one of us.  Not even me! Even with only one row of girls! I didn’t think any of us had changed that much!

But oh, how we had a good laugh over all of it! Most of all, it was so heart-warming to be able to share stories from 50 years ago with these brothers in Christ.  That pretty much says it all. That may not seem like a big deal, but with the way our area has grown; as rare as it is for me to run into someone from that time; as big as our church is, being together, almost like 3 kids again, seemed nothing short of a Tender Touch miracle. 

I even found myself wistfully wondering if the three of us had been placed in that class room together all those years ago, merely for this moment today. There is just something special in recently realizing this is where we all ended up all these years later after four decades of no contact at all.  A little over the top? Maybe; but it at least makes me think this is a bit of an example of what things will be like in Heaven. Still over the top?  Yeah, probably not even close; but it was definitely a Tender Touch of treasure for the moment.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Same Circles

I received an email today, from my gentleman friend that discusses politics with me from time to time.

I have never met this man, but a couple years ago, I had written a Letter to the Editor of our local paper and apparently, he didn’t like some of the things I said in my letter. I’m sure my name came up in conversation somewhere, due to this letter, because it wasn’t long before a mutual friend contacted me to let me know that this man would like to have my email address so he could discuss my letter with me.  My friend asked me if it would be alright to share my email address with him. 

“Sure” I told her, “Go ahead and give it to him.”  I had known of this man through politics in our area for some time, and I had read many of his letters to the editor as well.  I also knew he was a Christian.  He requested connections with me in the correct way, and my friend also handled it appropriately. I appreciated that she didn’t simply give out my email without asking me.

Anyway, because of that, he and I have corresponded through email over certain issues ever since.  Most of the correspondence is regarding Ron Paul, and I very comfortably explain: “He started it!  I just continue it.”  He has an email list he utilizes, to routinely send political information. I have explained my position to him thoroughly, and suggested a couple of times that because of our differences, he should remove me from his mailing list.  He has not removed me (thus far); so I continue to email him back from time to time with my rebuttal.  Fair is fair, after all.

Most of the time I enjoy our discussion; sometimes I do not. Today was one of those times that I most definitely didn’t enjoy it. So to temper my anger at his comments today, I walked away from it for awhile to try to decide exactly how I wanted to respond.

This is a very pro Ron Paul area where we live and I would suspect that I am not particularly popular in some circles, because of my position; though no one locally has ever been rude to me. I don’t believe I have ever been rude to anyone either regarding these politics; I certainly have never intended any animosity or impolite behavior.  I am a firm believer that discussion is not only good, but important and necessary.  How does one learn ones position, if we are afraid to discuss these matters?  How does truth prevail, if not for debating both sides? How does one decide for whom to vote, if one hasn’t researched a candidate’s position? What better way to do that than to find out what others might know, or may have observed?

No, these primary politics are never fun, but they are indeed necessary and an important part of our election process.

Not long ago, I went to an event where I was quite certain there would be many Ron Paul supporters.  Had I been anywhere but my hometown, I’m sure I would have felt a little bit like Daniel walking into a lion’s den. But locally, I have never been treated poorly for my views.  Now, nationally; it is another story - I know I ruffled feathers even when I didn’t intend to, by the attacks that I received over comments I made, simply because someone asked my opinion.  Talk about a set up! And Ron Paul’s supporters are known to be the “most faithful” – sometimes read “aggressive” - anywhere.

Anyway, a good friend was also at this local event. This particular friend is one with whom I have had a few Paul discussions. He gave me a big wave and a sparkling smile as he does every time I see him. I was relieved; he always remains as friendly as ever, despite the recent ratcheting up of events in the political arena.

His good nature and affability is always heart warming; and I think a lot of him, his wife and their beautiful family.  His consistent amicable attitude toward me caused me to reflect on one of our last discussions.

We were at a public place, but it was somewhere where a political discussion would not be out of line.  In fact, it was somewhere where discussion would be expected, as politics was the nature of the event.  He and I were bantering back and forth a bit, and he was no doubt winning the debate, fully prepared for anything I might throw back at him. Plus, I have never been one to quickly “think on my feet” verbally.  I felt I was holding my own, however.

It wasn’t long before a man approached us and said, “Man, what are you doing to this poor lady?”  My friend laughed as he hugged me and told the man, “This is a family friend and she is no POOR lady!! She is doing just fine!” We both had a sincere laugh. The debate was over, but his final comment made me feel really good.  It told me, I was holding my own, and that despite our differences, he still respected me for my view point.

I appreciated that so much.  I love that there are people that appreciate the dialogue in the same manner that I do. He wanted to share his views, because he believes in them so strongly, but yet he still allowed me to share mine knowing I believe the way I do just as strongly as he.

There was a time in my life I would never speak up like this, but as I get older and time gets shorter, (and so does patience, I guess) I now speak up more often.  I know one isn’t always able to do that with everybody. Sometimes dialogue must be curtailed; sometimes it can’t take place at all.  But through the example of this friend and the kind manner in which he has consistently treated me, hopefully I will always remember to treat my “email friend” just as respectfully.  I know I will try my best to respond kindly to his disturbing email; but no doubt, I WILL respond. My beliefs require it.

I do look forward to the day when this gentleman and I eventually meet.  I know we will one day.  It seems we travel in the same circles.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

More Than A Name

Saturday, December 10th, was the Second Annual Ceremony for Wreaths Across America.  Well that is, it was only the "second" one for Matt’s squadron; but actually this ceremony began several years ago because of a young man with a profound desire. I wrote about the history of Wreaths Across America last year on my blog, so I won’t repeat the information, but I hope you will take the time to read about it, here.

As I said, it is a new endeavor for our local squadron. Matt was the one that had actually found out about the ceremony to honor our Veterans at Christmas time who have passed away.  He worked actively to bring the ceremony to this area.  While wreaths are being placed on graves across the nation, wreaths are simultaneously being laid at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington D. C. It is a very worthwhile program and it was once again a very moving ceremony at our local cemeteries for the second year in a row.

I was mildly disappointed, because instead of having the whole squadron lay the wreaths at both cemeteries, as they had in the past, this year the squadron was divided into two teams and half of them presented the ceremony at Riverview, (the new addition to Forrest Lawn) while the other half of the squadron laid the wreaths at Memorial Gardens.  It probably made the most sense to do it this way to save time, but I didn’t like it quite as well, because it felt like we missed out on what was happening at the other cemetery.

However, this fact certainly didn’t detract from the program. Things began with the National Anthem, as Civil Air Patrol stood in formation; the First Lieutenant gave a meaningful and thoughtful speech honoring our veterans and pointing out freedoms we would not have if not for these men and women of our armed forces. Next, a wreath was presented for each of the Five Branches of Service as well as one for the MIA’s.  Matt, as Lt. Colonel, led the flight in formation and also was honored to be able to present the wreath for the Coast Guard Branch of Service.

After Taps was played, the public in attendance was invited to aid in the laying of the wreaths.  I am so thankful to be able to participate in this activity.  It is such a heartwarming experience, and gives one pause to reflect on those that have so proudly and honorably served our nation.  This year, Wreaths Across America formally asked that as participants lay the wreaths on the graves, we take note of the name and branch of service from a grave of our choice and later take the time to research the veteran to see if we could learn a little bit about him; this making it more personal. The person then becomes more than just a name or statistic, but a person who was, in fact, very real.  I loved this idea, and the veteran I chose was a WWII veteran whose grave was embossed with the Scripture reference “Matthew 27: 53 -55”.  I am excited to start researching this man and hope to write more about him later.

It was a cold 22 degrees F. while we worked, but the chill barely noticeable in all the activity.  When we were done with our task and we got back into the car, my husband headed our vehicle north to the next activity on our agenda for the day.  I knew we would be passing directly by the other cemetery, and I secretly hoped we could stop to see what the wreaths looked like at this cemetery too.  Though I hadn’t said a word about it, my husband pulled the car into the cemetery at the first entrance.  I couldn’t have been more pleased.  As we approached on the south side of the cemetery, headed for the military section, I softly asked my husband to stop.  We were passing my brother-in-law's grave and I could see someone had laid a wreath on his head stone.  I knew in a moment it was on his stone. It was beautiful, and the fact that someone had found his grave to lay a wreath there this far from the military section really warmed my heart.  As I went over to the grave just to spend a minute, I was especially moved to see a small token I had laid there months ago, was still there.  I went to the car and asked Matt to get out and take a picture. 

Once he did, we went on to the Military Memorial where the bulk of the wreaths had been laid.  Last year, snow covered the ground in a deep layer of white; this year the ground was frosty green and the sun was shining brightly.  It was every bit as lovely as last year. We stopped for more photos, and then went on our way feeling like we had at least done a small part in honoring some of our nation's finest at Christmas time. I remembered the cadets last year stating that they wished we had a wreath for every veteran in both cemeteries. They were a little bit closer to that dream this year and as the years progress and this program becomes more well known, I'm sure they will one day meet their goal. And I also have a feeling there will be many others whose day will be brightened; hearts softly moved, with the surprise of an intentionally meaningful and decorative Christmas wreath placed on their loved ones grave.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sometimes With Humor

“God has a sense of humor,” our guest laughingly proclaimed as he finished telling us his story.  We had company for dinner last night, and when we were done eating, we sat around the table enjoying the conversation for just a bit longer.

“Mom, tell them the story about the blizzard you were in,” my son encouraged with a twinkle in his eyes.

At the blank look on my face, he explained further, “You know; the one with your friend when you were traveling to Seattle…”

Now I knew why he wanted me to tell this story; it was a lesson I taught him when he was young, that yes, we do, indeed, serve a God that has a sense of humor, but it is really all about trust.

This story took place many years ago when I was a young woman in my twenties or so.  A girlfriend and I were making a trip to the Seattle area. She and I both lived there for a time, and we could have been making our way back to that area after we had made a visit “home”. I don’t really recall.  But I do remember this friend.  She and I could spend hours in conversation over coffee and cheesecake talking about the Bible, philosophies and politics; and also simply sharing our lives with one another. She was, and still is one of my very best friends.

It was the middle of winter and it had gotten very dark outside long before we arrived at our destination.  A little over half-way there - well, probably a lot more than half-way there – it began snowing.  The roads were getting more and more slippery and visibility was becoming much worse.  I was driving, and back then when I was young, I was a much more confident driver in snowy conditions than I am now.  But as it continued, it even became too much for me.

“Oh, man, Coco!  We have to pray!  Pray that God will relieve this storm for us at least until we get over the pass!”  If the storm was this bad before the high mountain pass that was coming up, I hated to think what it would be like on that pass.

She began a fervent prayer, as I kept my eyes on the road. The very second we finished our prayer, the snow stopped. And I mean stopped completely…no gradual decrease in the amount of flakes or wind, just a flat-out, extremely abrubt end of it all.  The dramatic change literally took our breath away. I could sense her shock, and feel her jump in surprise; I understood, probably because I did the same thing.  Just as quickly, however, we both burst out laughing when we realized we had just entered a train tunnel that was over the highway. No snow or wind in there!!  Though we laughed heartily, I still secretly hoped that on the other side of the tunnel, the storm would have subsided.  It had not.

That’s as much as I remember.  I don’t remember the drive over the pass or anything else that took place the rest of that trip.  This little comical experience is the only thing that stuck in my mind.  I’m sure at the time I didn’t understand why the Lord didn’t stop that storm for us, but I always did look at it like it was God’s sense of humor when our prayer ended the very second we entered the tunnel.  One thing I know; that moment of laughter calmed us and relaxed us enough to make the rest of the trip a lot more comfortably.

Now that I’m older, I understand that God didn’t have to stop that storm for us.  In fact, I firmly believe, instead:  Why would He?  He doesn’t promise to get us out of the tough stuff, only to get us through it.  Can you imagine a God that was really nothing more than a genie in a bottle; granting us this wish because we think we need it; or granting another wish, not because we need it, but just because we wanted it?  And this, for every individual that prayed every moment. Things, of course, would be chaos.  I’ll bet there were a lot of people at the nearby ski lodge that were conversely praying that they might encounter such a snow storm on this night! And no, I don’t think God granted them their prayer over mine.  We simply serve a God of order, Whom has set “laws of nature” in place for a purpose.  Sometimes He changes those laws for a reason and that is a miracle.  But always He knows what is best for us and continues to guide us through times of trouble; times of joy, and times of sorrow; times of learning; and times of grace. And every once in a while, I believe He shows us His grace through humor, as He did in this case.

For me, the bigger part of this whole story is not simply the lesson in trust that my friend and I had received that night. Rather, the greater part for me is all these years later I am able to see my son share something with others that I had shared in laughter with him. Best of all, he shared it with a twinkle in his eye and a confident understanding in his heart…therein lies the real miracle.

O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works.  Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have showed thy strength unto this generation and thy power to everyone that is to come. 
   ~Psalm 71: 17 -18

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Traditions; Additions; and Interruptions

Mom and Dad were the first to arrive.  I knew they would be.  I always tell them to come a little earlier than the rest of the family, and that way we have a chance to visit before everyone else arrives.  We were expecting 25 people and I knew once every one else came, any visiting for me would be minimal at best.

Mom also likes to arrive early to help peel potatoes or do anything else she can to help.  One thing I know about my mom, she simply isn’t comfortable at someone else’s house unless she is working.  Anyway, if they arrive early, Mom gets right to work and Dad gets settled to watch a little football if he can, before the house gets so crowded it is impossible.

I love our Thanksgiving holiday.  Of course it is one of my favorites, along with Christmas and Resurrection Day. Oh, and Fourth of July; and even Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day!  I just love holidays, and everything they symbolize. I love the celebration that each holiday brings; and I am a strong believer in tradition and acknowledging the importance and meaning each one represents.

We have a lot to be thankful for this year and I will probably write more about that later. But I love that I have a family that still gets together every holiday, to eat, play games and spend time.  All the preparation is worth it, when everything falls into place to help simplify the dinner hour.   Our house isn’t the biggest, nor does it have the best kitchen layout for a large gathering, but we manage. I do like to make sure everyone has a place to sit at a nicely set table, rather than having to use their laps.  So we bring in extra tables and make use of a bit more of the living room.

I try to make sure everyone is greeted and offered something to drink, at least initially - especially the kids. I want them, above all, to be comfortable and have fun. Eventually, as things get busier, they will be on there own for getting whatever it is they need. There are always lots of appetizers for everyone to snack on while we are waiting for the turkey to finish cooking; and for the time when eventually everything peaks and comes together in the last moments. 

As I am in the kitchen, I don’t get to hear many of the conversations; but our kitchen, dining room and living room are all open, so I try.  I will hear a snippet of a conversation here or there, as individuals make their way toward the appetizers and as everyone mingles. In the beginning, I probably drive everyone nuts by saying “Oh, what was that?”  “Where did that take place?”  “Now who was there?” You know; those kinds of questions that can be really irritating as one finishes their story and all of a sudden they have to repeat it.  But I can’t help it.  “Inquiring minds want to know!”  But as time goes on, I have to focus on “taking up dinner” as my grandma used to call it and I miss most of the socializing. I am happy to make dinner, but still, I always feel a little torn that I miss so much of the conversing.

It can be a bit stressful, making sure everything is ready at the same time, and that people are comfortable finding a place to sit.  I usually feel like a nag as I beg everyone to find a place at a table, so we can pray and get started before the food gets cold.

Our family has beome bigger over the years, as our kids grow and eventually marry and bring in additions to the family with their spouses and a new generation of little ones. Of course we love these “in-laws” as much as we love our blood relatives and we don’t even really think of them as “in-laws”.  But every once in a while, I am again reminded and amazed at how much I love our “new additions” and even those that aren’t so new.  So it was this year, when I asked my nephew (in-law) to pray before we ate this year. What a beautiful offering of thanks he gave before our meal, making so apparent what Thanksgiving is all about.  So too, was this one of those moments that remind me what a beautiful family we have with all of its extensions. What a wonderful husband and father this man has been to my niece and their kids. I am so proud of him and so thankful for him.

While we missed some of the family that no longer live close….and I mean reaallly miss, we also had guests that came to our Thanksgiving dinner for the first time.  What a joy it was to have them with us.  Steph brought some things that were a “tradition” in their own family.  She brought sweet potatoes made the way her family likes them, a beautiful cranberry Jello mold and a delicious green been salad, all dishes that made them feel a little more comfortable and were reminders of their own traditions.  I love that.

Though we tried to tell Mom she didn’t have to bake pies or rolls this year, she insisted. “Well, I am at least going to bring a lemon pie for my grandson!” It reminded me of my own grandma, (her mom) that without fail made a dish for a certain grandchild just because he or she loved it and would expect it.  Mom also made some salads that were long time family favorites.

After dinner this year, several began cleaning up while others finished eating. We then eventually settled into crazy games for those that like to play, and deep conversations, reading or television for others. I was at the game table, laughing and enjoying every minute. It was especially fun this year, with our new friends in attendance bringing their additional antics and excitement to the game table. But through my laughter, I also found myself secretly wishing that I could call out to those loved ones that I could hear in deep conversation. “Now, what was that you said?”

(Edgar Albert Guest, 1881-1959)

Gettin' together to smile an' rejoice,
An' eatin' an' laughin' with folks of your choice;
An' kissin' the girls an' declarin' that they
Are growin more beautiful day after day;
Chattin' an' braggin' a bit with the men,
Buildin' the old family circle again;
Livin' the wholesome an' old-fashioned cheer,
Just for awhile at the end of the year.

Greetings fly fast as we crowd through the door
And under the old roof we gather once more
Just as we did when the youngsters were small;
Mother's a little bit grayer, that's all.
Father's a little bit older, but still
Ready to romp an' to laugh with a will.
Here we are back at the table again
Tellin' our stories as women an men.

Bowed are our heads for a moment in prayer;
Oh, but we're grateful an' glad to be there.
Home from the east land an' home from the west,
Home with the folks that are dearest an' best.
Out of the sham of the cities afar
We've come for a time to be just what we are.
Here we can talk of ourselves an' be frank,
Forgettin' position an' station an' rank.

Give me the end of the year an' its fun
When most of the plannin' an' toilin' is done;
Bring all the wanderers home to the nest,
Let me sit down with the ones I love best,
Hear the old voices still ringin' with song,
See the old faces unblemished by wrong,
See the old table with all of its chairs
An I'll put soul in my Thanksgivin' prayers.


Monday, November 21, 2011

Winter Joy

We had the first snow of the season last week.  It covered the ground in a white layer somewhere between one or two inches…at least it was that much out where we live.  Then a few days ago, the next storm hit us and gave us about 7 or 8 inches.  Big long sigh!!  I love it and I hate it.  It is absolutely so beautiful and that part of it I very much love.  There is also something about the first snow that, for me, is so peaceful and calming.  I love that! 

I woke Matthew early that morning, saying, “C’mon, get up!  We have lots of work to do.” He had an activity later in the day, and I wanted to be sure everything was done before he left. 

“I will tend to the horses, if you will go out and start the snow-blower”, I bargained.  The horses are almost always in my bargaining strategy; the horses being my preference over almost anything.   

“Ok”, he agreed knowing he really didn’t have a choice, as it was unlikely I was going to be able to start the snow-blower for its first time this season.  I wanted to get an early start on this job, before the snow had a chance to get hard by freezing.  It makes it much more difficult to blow after it has been on the ground a while.  I also wanted him to snow blow a nice path from the house to the barn and from the barn to the water trough, so the horses could get to it easily.

So off I went to love on the horses, while he went out to do the snow-white dirty work.
It wasn’t long though, before he came to report.  “The snow-blower is a no go.  It won’t start and there is gas spurting out from somewhere. I’m going to go start up the tractor and plow the drive way with that instead.”

Ok, I sighed, knowing that would require a little more from me.  “I will go shovel the path to the barn and the water trough." Knowing it would take awhile to get the tractor started and the blade attached, I knew timing of our workload meant I would also have to shovel the sidewalk to the gate.  Too bad, I thought, the blower does it so much better and makes it look a whole lot prettier.

So out I went, starting with the side walk.  My faithful lab was beside me the whole time frolicking in the fluffy powder, not so secretly demanding my attention with hopes that I would give her new toy a good toss for her.  I relented once again.  How do you say no to her?  Her joy at finally having winter arrive and me being outside with her was more than she could possibly contain.  She was almost delirious in her mirth. Oh!  How I love that dog!

I finished the sidewalk and stepped out the gate to check on Matthew, I could hear the whir of an engine; he had already gotten the old tractor running. What a guy! He knew the right tricks.

I made my way back to begin shoveling at the porch where we would begin our trek to the barn each morning and evening.  The snow was powdery and light making it easy to shovel.  I was glad I had Matt get up early to get a jump-start on our winter project.  It made the task so much easier, with less time spent. 

It was also going well for Matthew.  He already had the blade attached to the tractor and was well into plowing the drive.  A distinct feeling of pride came over me that my son knew how to do these kinds of things. Pride; and gratefulness, that he was blessed enough to have a dad, as well as a grandpa, that had taken the time to teach him.

When I got to the gate of the pasture, Julie, our new Arab/Quarter Horse, came to greet me.  I’m sure she was hoping for more hay or a treat of some kind.  As I shoveled extra carefully around the gate so snow would not build up and make it more difficult to open as time passed, Julie was right there, with her nose in my way making my job a bit more difficult.  But her presence for me was a welcome nuisance.  I continued the path to the barn and to Skeeter’s (our stubborn Appaloosa) corral.  He wanted to join in the fun as well, and started pacing the fence line.  Julie followed me every step I took and wasn’t about to leave me.  Earlier this fall I could tell she had finally bonded with me and that was a happy moment for me, when I had understood the change in her.  But this wasn’t about the bonding, I’m quite sure.  This was about white stuff all over the ground that kept her from being able to nibble her grass. 

I relented one more time.  While I loved that Julie wanted to be next to me, she was getting in my way adding a difficulty to the snow shoveling that I no longer wanted to endure.  And I didn’t like seeing Skeeter in such grief at the fence line.  I knew for sure I didn’t want him in my way, so I went to the barn and got them each a little more hay so they would be distracted with eating and stay out of my way.

When I finished the path to the trough, I realized I had left the gate to the pasture open and my lab was out exploring new areas that she rarely was able to explore.  “Bella, Come!” I called.  It only took one call and she was by my side. My faithful, obedient companion, who loves me more than any other being on this earth I am convinced.

Together we headed back to the gate, and there to greet us was my overly rotund, roly-poly, southern boy.  My beagle had also ventured out to greet me, and seemed to display a joy all his own, at this new winter adventure.  It was so comical, as he clumsily ran back down the newly shoveled path to the house. Watching him, I breathed a small sigh as I remembered the fit, agile dog he had been in his younger days. Though he had come from prime hunting stock, a life of unhealthy living had eventually caught up to him; too many meals, too little exercise. This bad-boy hates snow, and can’t stand to be cold.  “He hales from the south”, I always tell people, and “he hates winter!”  But when there is something new going on, and people (or animals) that one loves are involved, it simply makes everything more fun, and a time one can’t afford to miss – for beagles or humans!
So, now I hope the reader understands my love/hate relationship with winter.  For at least the first month or two, it is definitely mostly love.

We received the second storm of the season, today.  Heading out for Round 2; adding up the times that will eventually lead me to the…well, shall we say the time that will be “less than love”.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Cafe of My Heart

“He got his commercial pilot’s license at this airport”, she told the waitress. He’s an old crop duster.”  We had been looking at all the photos and airplane memorabilia as we waited for our food at this decorated café which had become a favorite of mine. 

My sisters and I had been planning a family outing here all summer long, but timing just never worked out for all of us until this late-fall afternoon.  The group consisted of my Dad and Mom; my older sister and two of her grandkids; my younger sister and her youngest son; and my son and me. 

We used to come as a family to this small airport from time to time when we were kids.  We came on a Sunday afternoon just to watch the planes, or there would be times we came to visit an air show that had been scheduled on the tarmac. 

Much later in my life, when my husband was driving truck, he would bring my son and I here to have lunch at the little airport café when he had truck business to tend to in this part of town.  I guess it was then that it became one of my favorite stops; a place that could turn in to a short, but fun day trip, that my son and I would also venture off to from time to time.

So, because of that and my childhood memories, I guess, somehow we decided we needed to make a little family outing with my folks and sisters to see if we could refresh any dormant memories from our past; and also just because we knew our dad would enjoy once again being at this airport where he had indeed received his commercial pilot’s license all those years ago.

“Where do you find all the photos and memorabilia?” my older sister asked the friendly waitress. 

“Well, we buy it and sometimes people just bring it in to us,” she replied. “Bring in a photo of your dad flying; we would love to add it to the collection!”

My dad hadn’t heard the conversation between the waitress and my oldest sis; but when we told him what she had said, he beamed, holding back tears that seemed to be demanding a showing in his expressive eyes.

We are simply a family of airplane buffs, probably with Dad’s crop dusting days as the catalyst for the interest.  My nephew has loved planes since he was just a little tyke, and he has a huge amount of knowledge on airplanes of all generations and all wars.  My son joined Civil Air Patrol with a desire to learn to fly.  And Dad was a tail gunner in a B-24 during World War II, but his desire to fly came at a very early age.  His mom had taken him for a ride when he was only about 6 years old with a Barnstormer whom had come to their home town.
So, not that we needed it, but with all that interest in airplanes in our family, it kind of made us feel like we had a reason to be here at this airport cafe, and that we somehow belonged.

It’s a darling little restaurant; simply an old fashioned café, that makes one feel like one has traveled back in time to a better day.  That’s what it makes me feel like anyway.  One can watch the planes as they taxi in and out of the runway, and the customers are fun to watch and visit with here, too.

I'm sure there is a lot of history that comes with this air field as well as the restaurant, and I intended to include it here. But time is short for me and that will have to be for another post. 

One thing is certain, the food is excellent and the service is great; but for me, the nostalgia of it all and the place it holds in my heart is what I love the best.