Monday, November 26, 2007

Contented Christmas

Our society just made a complete 180 degree turn around from thinking about what we are thankful for to thinking about what we want…NO, I mean what we want to give! Isn’t that what it seems like though? We go from the focus of thanksgiving directly into spending time figuring out how to satisfy one another’s wants. This year, I am taking my best shot at trying NOT to do that. I recently realized how serious I needed to work on this when my daughter decided to ask for a Wii game system for Christmas. She started out saving her own money for this popular gaming toy, but soon realized that it was well beyond the reach of her 13 year old budget. After doing some odd jobs and a large babysitting job, she had saved a good deal of money, but not even half of what she needed to purchase the system, the remotes, and a game or two. So, she decided that this would be the big ticket item on her Christmas list. When she approached her frugal father about her wishes, he explained to her that it was a nice thing to ask for, but not to get her hopes up. Santa has two kids in college, one of whom is graduating right before Christmas. Knowing that funds would be tight, he tried to direct her attention to other things but she began to get a little testy with him. As I listened to the demands of our 13 year old, it dawned on me - the Christmas wish list has become a shopping list and I decided that I would need to do something to change our perspective on this big holiday of giving.

As I reflected, the season of Thanksgiving was still forefront, and the word that kept coming to mind was contentment. I thought about the Apostle Paul and his words on the subject.

Philippians 4:12 says:
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

How could I possibly teach this to my children? How could I live by this myself?

These questions filled my head for days. I wonder how Paul would have sounded if he had the attitude of my children, or even me. Keep in mind this is a man who spent more time in jail than he did out of jail. And he was serving the Lord, not working for himself. That in itself is challenging enough, but add to it his attitude of contentedness instead of entitlement. He wrote letters of all different types to all different people and they are recorded in scripture. Funny, I have not read anything that sounds like this:

“Dear Believer’s at Philippi, Would you hurry up and see what you could do about my situation? I have been in this prison for way longer than I expected and I really don’t deserve to be here at all. It is a dump and I don’t even have cable t.v. It is about time that I get what I deserve…after all, I have been serving other people all of my working life!”

Can you even imagine?

How many of us sound this way? Not just on our Christmas list, but in every day life?

As a result of my evaluation, the gift list of my family members may not include anything over $50. We are sponsoring an elderly person at a nursing home, we are taking part in toys for tots, we are sending a box to a serviceman overseas, and we will try to get to the homeless shelter to serve a meal. All of our children will participate in these things. And we will continue our thanksgiving realizing that not only should we be content, but thrilled with the blessings we already have. And the Christmas gifts that we give to one another will be totally out of love, not entitlement!

Merry Contented Christmas!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving - Family

The season of Thanksgiving is officially over and the Christmas season has begun. Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year will end in a few hours as the clock strikes midnight. I did my own share of shopping today and now feel the excitement of Christmas spirit. That is something to be thankful for...the Christmas spirit!

As I have spent time in the last week and especially the last two days thinking about the things that I am thankful for, I have to mention how thankful I am for my family...biological and the one that I married into.

One of the reasons that I am grateful for having moved to Texas is we can now spend holidays with our family. As much as I enjoyed the traditions that we created in Virginia, there is nothing like the joy of being with family. There are memories, love, genuine care, and simple pleasure of just being together that cannot be experienced with anyone else. Family is irreplaceable, unconditional, and precious.

I am thankful for my mother, the fact that she is alive and (mostly) healthy. I miss Ron, her husband, whom we lost a couple of years ago. It has been difficult and scary and I hate that he is not here, but I am so grateful that my mom is OK and I have been able to be close during the last two years. I am certain this was something that God saw coming down the road and strategically placed us here at this time. It is wonderful to be able to spend Thanksgiving with her.

Part of Fred's family was able to join us at my mom's. I am thankful that our families are willing to spend time together, combining celebrations and having fun together. I like that our families are interested in one another. I enjoy our relationship with Fred's sister and husband and our niece's. Now we have a new nephew-in-law who just joined our family this past weekend! Congratulations to Megan and Matthew who just got married in Maui!

My niece, Kristin, is a joy to be around. She is growing and is so beautiful! I am thankful that we are close enough to see her on a regular basis and she knows who we are! She adores "her Becca" and I love watching her follow Rebecca around with absolute admiration.

I am thankful for Fred's parent's. His mom and her husband, G.W., also joined us at my mom's. (as did Deb, Mike, and Michelle) They are so sweet and pleasant to be around...and so easy going.

We spent Friday morning with Fred's dad and his wife, Anna. Even though they are going through a difficult time (Fred's dad's health is not good right now), it was so good to be around them. We reminisced about Thanksgiving and Christmas's past, laughing at the things we did and how much time we have all been a family. It was a little scary to see Bob so ill and we will pray like crazy that he will get stronger so that we can spend more time with him.

From Bob and Anna's we went to my dad's house. He and Glena made their famous (to us) homemade pizza. We enjoyed catching up. Chuck (my half brother) was there. He is living in Wichita, going to the same church that Fred and I went to when we were living there. It was such fun to visit with him...he is such a great guy!

As Rebecca, Fred and I made our rounds to visit all these folks, I had a warm feeling of being home. I told Fred that it felt like we were early in our relationship again. It was good to journey back in time, thinking of the things we did when we were first married, when we were just merging our families together. Rebecca was gathering information, fun information...history of times before she was born. Family stories that will be fun for her to know and pass along. Fred and I have come a long way since those early days, but it is history that we enjoyed sharing with our daughter.

I am thankful for family. There is no one in the world like them. Thank you, God, that we are near enough to them to spend time with them again and let us do it often!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Thanksgiving - My job

For those of you who know me, you are probably shocked to see that one in writing! However, yes, I am thankful for my job. Even more of a surprise is the fact that I am also thankful for my commute to and from Dallas!

Let me explain. I am thankful for my job for the obvious reason, first being the income that it provides. I have been able to contribute to our family finances and more importantly to help pay for college tuition for BOTH kids in college without having to take a loan! This is a wonderful thing to be grateful for!

I am also thankful that my job provides our family a few extras. We don't have to over think purchasing things that we did when we were on a single income. American Eagle, Journey Shoes, and places like this that make our kids smile are now places that we can shop...on occasion...but they were way too frivolous before this job.

Fred and I were able to take a fabulous anniversary trip to Mexico, something we would not have been able to do if I were not working. And it was fancy...we were spoiled and totally relaxed knowing that we paid for it all BEFORE we went, in cash. Then I was even further blessed by being able to take a seven day cruise with my mom - in the same year! These type of things would not happen if it were not for my job.

My employer allows me to work a flex schedule. I am ever so thankful for this. I work a 32 hour work week and as long as I am responsible, I can work it however I choose. This is GREAT! I like my boss and the people I work with. This is also a great thing.

Now, about the commute. I usually leave my home a little before sunrise. Usually at some point during my drive, I witness the sun's rising. I see this every day since I travel east to my office. Some days, I simply rejoice at the sight of it. This morning was one of those days. The sun was beautiful and just when I praised God aloud for the beauty of it (literally...with clapping even!), one of my very favorite songs came on the radio. I had a wonderful, spontaneous time of worship. I would not have these great experiences if I did not have the drive that I do.

Then to add to the blessing of my commute, I have had some of the most meaningful conversations with family and friends while I drive. Just turn on the hands free device and make a phone call to someone I love. My days are blessed by the additional time that I have to keep current with those that I care about, all because of the extra 40 minutes in my car on the drive home.

So, I am thankful for my job. I actually enjoy my work. It is more than just a job. It is more than a paycheck but it is also a blessing.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Thanksgiving - My Kids

I am thankful for my kids. My husband and I have been blessed with three of the best kids that anyone could ask for.

Our oldest son, Adam, is 23 years old. I am thankful for the fact that he is about to graduate from Virginia Tech! He chose a career path when he was in High School, Computer Engineering, and he has stuck with it ever since. He selected his university based on his degree program knowing that he would get one of the best educations available in his field. I am so proud of him. I am thankful that he has stuck with it. I am also thankful that he is the kind of guy that enjoys being around his family. I love my relationship with him because it is so easy to talk to him. He is easy going and fun to be around.

Aaron is our middle child, and is 20 years old. I am thankful for Aaron because he is very caring. He looks out for the people that he cares about, always making sure that we are safe and doing the right thing. His career path is a good choice for enforcement. Now, I am not sure that I am thankful for this choice, but I am thankful that he selected something that he seems to be passionate about. I am thankful that he is going to college before going into the police academy. I am also thankful that he has a wonderful girlfriend, Amy, whom he has been going out with for more than a year now. They are good for each other, get along well, and balance one another out beautifully. I am thankful for this.

The baby of the family is Rebecca and at 13, looks like she is 21. I am thankful because our relationship is open and she tells me everything. Well, she says she tells me everything and at this point, I pretty much believe her. I hear all the sagas of friends, boys, the joys and woes of junior high. She is entertaining, open, and understands her feelings. I am grateful that she is less emotional than I am and when her feelings get hurt, she is quick to forgive. (with all but one friend...that one took a year!) If we stay on the track we are on, we will be good friends as she gets older, which is something I desire tremendously. I love the fact that we are starting to understand one another and that our relationship has true substance.

I am SO thankful for all three of these kids. It is wonderful watching them grow into adults, to see how their personalities have developed. They are becoming interesting adults, with things that they enjoy and pursue on their own, without prompting and prodding by me, or Fred, or a teacher. I love having conversations with them...each of them being different in personality, but each of them interesting and mature in their communication. They are honest. They have integrity. They all love God.

I have great kids!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thanksgiving - Best Friends

Continuing my thoughts on being thankful, I have to talk about friendships. Through the course of my life, I have been blessed with many friends. Starting when I was a little girl, I loved friends. I collected them like treasures. As far back as I remember, I realized that friends make the world a better place.

My first best friend was a girl that I met when I was in first grade named Michelle. She and I are still friends today, and our "best" friendship lasted well into High School. Our families did things together, we spent the night together often, invited one another along on family vacations and looked for any opportunity to hang out. This life philosophy continued for me as I have gone through all phases of my life. God has always provided me with circles of friends, really good friends and a handful of those who I call "best" friends.

Best friends are the ones who you can not only confide in - the good, the bad, and the indifferent - but also the friends who will tell you what they see about you. In other words, my BEST friends have permission, if you will, to tell me what they see about me that I need to know. An easy example is letting me know if I have spinach in my teeth (Ashley just told me this recently!). But it goes beyond this. My best friends can tell me that I am being ugly or hateful or bitter and I will know that she wants what's best for me and loves me.

I have one friend, who God has given to me, that is the best of the best. She is a rock. Our friendship has endured things that I cannot even describe. On the occasions that I have tried to describe the hard times we have made it through...others' are amazed that the friendship has survived. Credit goes entirely to our Heavenly Father, who orchestrated our meeting and gave us an amazing ability to relate to one another. Our friendship is not perfect, we fight like sisters. But forgiveness is never denied and unconditional love (agape) prevails. I know she wants what is best for me, and me for her. When she hurts, I hurt. When she rejoices, I rejoice. Our hope is that we will be little old ladies, hanging out together, drinking coffee in someone's kitchen, talking about how long we've been friends. We will do it! We have what it takes. She is loyal to the bone. We are committed to being the type of friends that God designed...sharing life, sharing Christ, and supporting one another through all things.

I am thankful for ALL my wonderful friends. You are all super friends and you are there for me. Old ones like Michelle, Pam, Cindy, and Jeanne. A few in Virginia like Tina, Bridgette, Stephanie, and Nancy who moved from there. Lori who is steadfast and helped with God's plan to bring us to Flower Mound. Susan who God moved to Texas before he brought me here so we could keep our friendship going. Even renewed friends like Lorinda, Erin and Kate. I am very grateful for my new friends like Tana, Ashley, and Angela...who have helped me realize that God ALWAYS answers prayer! And Jessica, Janie, Elsa who have enriched my life at work and beyond. And I am ever so thankful for Ruthie who I can truly and from the heart, call my best...

SO THANKFUL for friends!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Thanksgiving - My husband

As Thanksgiving approaches, we are reminded from every direction to think about the things we are thankful for. Emails go around, radio programs are directing our minds toward thankfulness, even advertisements hint of thanksgiving. Although I try to make thankfulness part of my daily living, this time of year does cause me to give additional thought to the many ways that I am blessed.

One of those blessing is that I have a great husband who treats me well. He loves me and wants what is best for me. He even will sometimes give in to me and allow me to do what is not best for me (like over-eat) and not give me a hard time. He looks for ways that he can make me happy, provide for me financially, emotionally, and physically. ;) If I am tired, he makes sure that I rest, if I am hungry, he makes sure that I eat, and if I am broke, he makes sure that I don't spend! Seriously, he is a wonderful husband.

He is also a wonderful father. He loves our children with the same kind of love. He makes sure that they have everything they need. He even makes sure that they have enough of what they want....but not too much. He teaches them about responsibility, work ethic, and love. I watched him yesterday, take on an entire project for Aaron. Aaron had some puzzles that he wanted to display in his bedroom. Fred went shopping, purchased everything necessary to get the puzzles framed and on his wall. There were many other chores that could have been taken care of, but Fred made this a priority. He did not ask for help. He gave of himself, a gift to his son, free and for fun.

As a father and a husband he is also very gentle. In twenty seven years, I have rarely heard him raise his voice. Especially when it comes to his relationship with our kids. He disciplines in love, and most of the time with extreme patience. (sometimes he is so kind it annoys me!) It is clear when he "really means it", but rage is not something that is in his character. He is
even-tempered and kind. He genuinely wants the best for his family and he knows that fury, yelling, and hateful words damage people. He has never damaged our children in this way. I cannot come close to expressing my gratitude and thankfulness for this.

So, as thanksgiving approaches, I have to express sincere thankfulness toward the man that I married. He is a beautiful example of self sacrifice and love.

More posts on thanksgiving soon........I have so much to be thankful for. This is one of many.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Fun Stuff


Life has been wild...great...but certainly wild! I loved the cruise! Jamaica was wonderful. It was rich, it was poor, it was real and it was beautiful. Grand Cayman's was a place that I would just want to kick back and spend about 3 months out of every year. And Cozumel, I always love Mexico! The Mayan Village was great, the history was interesting and the shopping was fabulous! My mom and I enjoyed our time together. We relaxed. We played. We ate...and ate...and ate. I danced, I swam, we sunned, we napped and we enjoyed. The crew was great. They were entertaining. I loved the different nationalities that were represented. It was great to talk to the crew members, to find out about their lives. They took great care of us!

I had time to think about life. About family. About marriage. About friends. About God. About what's important. I know that I am very, very blessed.

When I came home, I had two days at home and at work before I turned around and went to Raleigh, North Carolina for work. Let me tell you what! When I saw the trees - I thought I had died and gone to heaven! I had no idea how badly I missed the east coast! Raleigh is only about 3 hours from where I lived for almost 11 years and it looked SO much like southern Virginia! My heart ached and rejoiced at the same time.

And I had great fun meeting all the people that I work with in North Carolina. It was productive and entertaining. We had some fun times. Yvonne made me laugh like crazy...she lets crazier stuff than I do come out of her mouth! It was the most fun I have had at work yet! What a blast. And even meeting with the doctors was fun. Especially the high five with Dr. Hamad over Southfork Ranch and the t.v. show Dallas! Funny stuff!

I cleaned my house life crazy today. Tomorrow is the big Pampered Chef party. It is going to be fun. Lot's of gals are coming. The food will be great and the company even better. After the official party...girls night out my house. Fred is the host. Woo hoo! Get ready for good times. I have some great friends here in Texas and we are going to party. Laugh. Talk. Eat. Laugh some more.

No serious thoughts. Just enjoying life. I like the effects of cruising...still hanging in there in my relaxed state. My mom had a great idea...let's just take one one week of every month and stress will not be an issue again...and she will certainly heal! Great idea!