12/30/09

Help me, Lord

I have always had great faith in God and the infinite work he does in our lives. I have always asked for his guidance and assistance. Notice I say...assistance. I have a bad habit of asking him and then telling him how I want him to handle it. Well, recently I was overwhelmed with so much going on that I need his guidance and help in that I simply bowed down on my knees one night and said, "Dear Lord, Help me." Then I left it there, walked away from it and figured he could do better without my intereference. I had the best night sleep that night. I woked up refreshed. All the "little things" that had been adding up and keeping me wired slowly melted away through out the day as one solution after another presented itself as he took care of the items on my list. So, see he doesn't need our help at all. He just needs us to ask for his. So as we go into 2010, my prayer for you is that God will help you, too, with the little things as well as the big things that combine to overwhelm us from time to time.

12/26/09

The day after Christmas

Twas the day after Christmas when all through the land Things needed to be done but no one felt like lifting a hand. Should the tree come down and be put away? Or should we leave it up till New Years Day? Do we want to work hard and undecorate until all is well? Or should we go shopping for the perfect after Christmas sale? Should we go outside to walk off the extra weight? Or should we stay in and have a piece of chocolate cake? For me and mine, we'll decide later today. Should we work hard or continue to play? I'm savoring this moment and enjoying the rest. For Christmas was great and we truly were blessed.

12/16/09

The House Up the Hollow

It was more than a house. It was our home, our shelter, our refuge. A place of love and family so dear. A place to laugh, a place to live, and a place to love. So many memories live inside her old walls. We lived there from the time I was 9 months old. When Daddy passed away in 1999, my brother bought the house and remodeled it. We still have family get-togethers at the old home place. My brother remodeled it so it is now a two story instead of one and has cedar siding instead of white wood. But the memories are still there, trapped inside her walls for safe keeping. Every once in a while, I pull them out and remember….. I remember winter nights so cold that Mom would hang blankets over the doorways to keep the warmth of the old gas stove in the living room since there were no doors on the rooms yet. I can remember the day Jack came home from the hospital and me sitting in the old green vinyl chair holding him for the first time. I can remember when Andy was born and Mom had a cab bring us home the day he came home from the hospital. I remember when Rachel got married and I finally got our bedroom to myself. I remember the loneliness of not having her there at night. I remember Dad teaching us to play checkers. I remember drying the dishes and the special time with Mom to do it. I remember how slow I was because I didn’t want to do the work. I remember baby dolls at Christmas and Mom making our Barbie clothes. I remember homemade Easter dresses and summer pajamas. I remember sharing the big Hershey bar in Dad’s drawer. I remember Daddy having bread in coffee with cream and butter for a late night snack. I remember folding Andy’s diapers, fresh off the line. I remember crawling in bed with clean sheets, smelling like the summer sun. I remember stuffed animals lined down the middle of the bed between me and Rachel. I remember my green pajamas with a turtle on the front. I remember being outside taking pictures with Andy in his stroller and Jack being inside pulling the chest of drawers over on himself. I remember long walks to the store, the Corner Grill, the golf course and the cow pasture. I remember eating supper in cardboard boxes on Thursday nights in front of the TV. I remember learning to drive and taking Andy and Jack places. I remember walking to the library. I remember cheese sandwiches and lemonade under the shade of the oak tree. I remember Noxema on sunburns. I remember melting the snow from our gloves on the pipe of the old gas stove so we wouldn’t have to go back in. I remember homemade donuts and chocolate pudding. I remember Christmas candy being brought out a little at a time during the holiday. I remember Nehi Grape and Orange with ham sandwiches on Christmas afternoon. I remember grape Kool-Aid with lemons. I remember Lady, our beagle, having puppies on my birthday and we brought them in to keep warm in front of the old gas stove. I remember all the “Good Night, I love you’s”. I remember watching the well light so we didn’t run out of water. I remember Mom fussing about all the dust from the dirt road. I remember Easter egg hunts...over and over all week. I remember a lot of things about that old house. I remember the tile floor with all the assorted colors. I remember jumping from bed to bed in the middle room when we had the flu because Mom said not to get off the bed. I remember Daddy building me and Rachel a new room. I remember all the different paints on the walls and all the patterns of wallpapers. I remember Dad cutting holes in the wall so Mom could have shelves. I remember every tree, every hickory nut and every acorn. I remember every blade of grass and every spot of dirt in the driveway. I remember the laughter and the good times. It makes me smile as I remember those old days. It makes me sad that we can’t go back, but it makes me glad that I have my memories. The House Fresh coats of paint and a new porch or two, Rooms were added and changed as she grew. Wallpaper and carpet and furniture changed, But in our memory, she was always the same. But now we’re all grown and moved far away. Her old walls still stand, remembering the days. I wonder sometimes in the midnight so deep, Does she think of us and do her walls weep?

12/13/09

Christmas Memories

Packages wrapped up with ribbons and bows, Stockings over fires with embers aglow; A tree in the corner strung with tinsel and lights; A soft falling snow on a cold winter night. Under the tree on a soft woolen skirt, Sat a nativity scene of the dear Savior’s birth. As I knelt down close to take a good look, My mother would read from an old worn book. She told of a mother, weary and worn, Looking for a place for her child to be born. The inns were all full, no room could be found. They were shown to a stable with hay on the ground. She read how the shepherds were watching their sheep When angels came to them with voices so sweet. She read of their messages of tidings of joy As they told the shepherds about the birth of a boy. We’d listen intently, eyes glued on that book As she told how the shepherds went to go look. How they found the sweet baby in a manger that night And how they gave praise to God for the sweet blessed child. We hung on her words, the picture so clear, For this was a child the world would hold dear. She flipped back some pages as we knelt at her feet, While she read of some wise men and a star in the east. She told of their journey to see the small babe. She read of their worship and the gifts that they gave. We heard about the frankincense, the myrrh and the gold, As Mom quietly finished her story of old. As she closed the worn book that she’d just read, We’d get our kisses from Daddy and scoot off to bed. As she tucked us all in and kissed us good night, We’d think of that story as she covered us tight. For we had been raised to know the Lord’s love, And we knew that sweet Child was a gift from above. We knew that a great sacrifice had been made, That started with the birth of Jesus that day. So forget all the presents, the ribbons and bows. Forget all the stockings and lights all aglow. For the greatest gift you’ll find on your Christmas morn, Was given by God, the year our Savior was born. Written by Brenda Garretson Keefer December, 1999 for my Mom

12/12/09

Is Christmas too commercialized?

As with anything of magnitude, our country as a whole tends to "over do" it. Ford comes out with a new car; Chevy comes out with one better. Nike invents a new shoe for athletes, Adidas has to improve the design. We have become a world of one-upmanship. Nothing is good enough for us. We used to pick up the phone to make calls to loved ones or drop them a card in the mail. They now have phones that can make calls, send text, send photos, access the Internet, give you directions, update you as news happens and play as a radio. We are in the age of progress and the higher tech we get the more competitive suppliers and designers get. But there is a time to get back to the basics. I was talking with someone about how commercialized Christmas is. It donned on me that I heard that from my grandmother's generation, my mom's generation, now my generation is starting to feel the same way. But do we need to buy into the commercialism? No. Just because you love the crowds, love the thrill of being out in the thick of things, does not necessarily mean you have bought into the hype and hubbub that Christmas has turned into. I love the thrill of finding the best bargain and knowing that someone is going to be thrilled to get that one thing they really wanted. I love the rush of having to hurry from here to there to attend Christmas dinners and Christmas parties. I love watching the cartoons, the movies and the Christmas specials on TV. I love the excitement of putting my decorations out and watching my home evolve into a winter wonderland. But does this mean I've went over to the "dark" side and become commercialized. No. It simply means that I enjoy every facet of Christmas. I still feel the joy and excitement of that first Christmas when we sing those old carols like Silent Night or Away in the Manger. I still like to sit and think about how Mary and Joseph felt when they held that little babe for the first time. I like to close my eyes and feel the excitement of the angels saying "Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." How powerful are those words "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." No matter how commercialized the world gets or how much fun and joy I have at Christmas, I never ever lose sight of the true meaning and the one and only joy that matters, the birth of our Lord. One of my favorite Christmas songs by Alabama says: Out here is the country there's magic in the air. It's the middle of December there's excitement eveywhere Everyone's invited, the celebration's planned The gift is just what's in your heart and not what's in your hand Who's the one we need to thanks Who's the party for Who's the one responsible for all this peace and joy Who deserves the credit for the blessings we enjoy Preacher said last Sunday it was Joesph and Mary's boy That sums it up pretty good. It's okay to get into the spirit of things as long as we don't forget the true reason we are having so much fun this time of year.

12/10/09

Happy Birthday to my Twins, Diana & Chris

It was 2:00 in the morning on a Saturday. The pains had started at 8:00 the night before, but they were mild and would come and go. I would walk the hallway, back and forth, trying to decide if this was the real thing or false labor. I had been to the doctor earlier that day and he had said my backache was nothing to worry about; I still had four weeks to go. He sent me home and said to just take it easy and he would see me next week. Yeah, right. This pregnancy had other plans. Once the pains grew steady, we called my mom and sister to meet us at the hospital. On the way, I allowed my thoughts to wander. Will it be a boy or a girl? Light hair? Dark hair? No hair? Then another pain hits and I realize it doesn't matter. I will soon be holding my precious bundle of joy and it won't matter at all which it is. I am in so much pain by this time that I think I must surely be dying. The nurses at the hospital assure me that it will get worse before it gets any better. Now isn't that a comforting thought? I get poked and prodded and hooked up to gadgets. I am not a model patient. No matter who comes to comfort me I want someone else. I'm burning up so they give me a cool cloth for my forehead, which I promptly sling across the room because I am now freezing. Several nurses have commented on the heartbeat. They say it is good and steady; a nice strong beat that could only be a boy. It is now noon on Saturday. I have had hours of excruciating pain. Pain which I know is never going to end. Pain I am sure I will remember until my dying day. The nurse does her check and announces I may have my epidural. They have to do it twice before the pain begins to ease. I am so exhausted that I promptly fall asleep. Somewhere in the midst of my peaceful slumber, I hear a new shift of nurses arriving. They comment on the dainty, small heartbeat. They claim it is going to definitely be a girl. My mind begins to worry over this new information. I am convinced something is wrong for the heartbeat to have changed so drastically. Before I can express my concerns, my nurse rouses me and tells me it is time. We travel down to the delivery room and my anticipation peaks. The moment will soon be here. The waiting and worries will all be over. As I hear the soft swish of the closing doors, I watch the stage be prepared. Everyone's in their assigned positions and the curtain is ready to rise. When in the brief moment of stillness I hear the doctor say "Nurse, please get another warmer, I believe we have twins." Happy birthday to my precious children — Diana Lynn Hayes and Christopher Shawn Boyle. May God always keep you in His care and bless you with His grace. May your children be as much of a blessing and comfort to you each as you have both been to me. I love you.

12/9/09

Life's Defining Moments

It's not the days and years that go by so swiftly, it's the moments. Those little clips in time that we can pinpoint every detail of every facet of that precise second. Over the years, you remember what you were doing when you heard JFK had been shot, where you were when you heard Elvis had died and everything about the day the Twin Towers were hit. No matter how huge, how horrifying, or how trivial, we all have defining moments that stick with us for eternity. Thirty-three years ago today at exactly 8:00 pm, I was playing cards with some friends of mine. I went to pick up the Ace of clubs from the stack and felt that first grip of pain. That moment of panic. That oh my gosh! feeling you get when you feel your very first labor pain with your very first child. I can picture the kitchen, butcher block style table top and tan metal chairs with brown cushions (tacky, but so 70's-ish). I had my back to the stove and had on my favorite striped maternity top that said Baby across the front. As my hand reached across for the card, I froze. I felt the sharp stabbing pain but wasn't sure what was happening as I wasn't due for 4 more weeks. I glanced at the clock. I noticed my friend, Marsha, glance at me then glance at her watch. We continued to play as if nothing had happened. At 8:20, I felt that same pain. Marsha announced the game was over and it was time for our new game to begin. For as long as I live and as many memories as I make, that memory never fades with time and I am glad because it let to the best thing that ever happened to me....my twins.

12/7/09

Busy, Busy, Busy

I can't remember which Christmas cartoon (think it is Frosty) where one of the characters is busy, busy, busy. That is my life at the moment. I am one of those people that thrive on a lot going on. These next few weeks will be a whirlwind of excitement and chaos...and I'm loving every minute of it. The holiday season is so special to me because that is also the time of year I had my precious twins. This was their fourth birthday picture and yes, that is me standing up. But that was 28 years and 60 pounds ago.
In addition to the hoopla of shopping, wrapping presents, decorating, and writing Christmas cards, we have a big birthday bash for their birthday and mine every year. Our birthdays are just 3 days apart and it's a wonderful time for us all to celebrate together.
Over the next few weeks, I have two more church functions (Ladies Night Out & Sunday School Class dinner). We have three more practices for the Christmas program, two nights of putting the program on. We have the big birthday bash and I get to go to Caton's Chapel School to watch Garret and Alexis in the school Christmas program.
Somewhere in my busy schedule, I need to allow some time for work. LOL. How much longer till January?

12/6/09

How did Joseph feel?

Over the ages, theologians and laymen have pondered Mary and her role as the mother of Jesus. Books have been written; songs have been sung. Everyone has wondered how she felt, what she experienced, did she ever think about what her Son would go through and who He really was? But what about Joseph? He had to have played an important role in the first twelve years of Jesus’ life on earth? How did he feel when he learned of Mary’s pregnancy? Once Jesus was born, did he hold that little life in his hands and rock him gently. When he came in from work at night, did he pick up the Baby and place his finger in the tiny hand of Jesus? Did he laugh at the antics of the little baby boy as he took his first steps; said his first word? Did Jesus gaze up at him adoringly? When Jesus was young and inquisitive, did Joseph take him into the carpenter shop and teach him to build a table? Did they work together quietly or was Jesus full of questions for his earthly father? Did he take pride in his Son as he tucked him in at night? Did he stand in amazement at the words the young boy spoke, marveling at the child’s intellect? Would you not love to be able to sit down with Joseph and ask him, “What was Jesus like?” The world owes a debt of gratitude to Joseph for standing beside Mary, believing in God and following God’s instructions so that the perfect plan could be put into place that Christmas eve so many years ago. So, Joseph, thank you.

12/5/09

The spirit of Christmas

Over the years at Christmas time, I have been one of the blessed few who has always had a child in the family at Christmas that "Santa" would visit. When I got old enough that he wasn't coming to see me, I had a baby brother who he visited. When my brother got "of age", my twins were little. As my children grew, my brothers and sister had children who were still waiting for Santa to come. When my youngest niece was moving into her final years with Santa, the grandchildren started arriving. Now, with 3 siblings, 9 nieces and nephews, 4 grandchildren, and 6 great nieces and nephews, Santa and I have been tight for 53 years. "Santa" has always been good to me, but I remember the best Christmas of my adult life. I have a book I read when I was in Junior High. It was called Karen by Marie Killilea. It is the true story of Karen Killilea, written by her mother. Karen was born with cerebral palsy at a time when most people believed children born with the disease should be put away in an institution. This story is about the first 10 years of Karen's life and the many obstacles she rose above. Written through a mother's experience and with a mother's love, this is the most touching, uplifting book I have ever read and I have read it many, many times. It was a best seller in 1952 and I could not find it in print anywhere. I mentioned to my husband that if there was a Santa, I wish he'd get me Karen for Christmas. On Christmas morning when all the presents were unwrapped, my hubby said "What is that under the secretary cabinet?" I scooted over and looked under it and there was a package in plain brown paper, tied with jute string. He told me to open and see what it was. You guessed it, it was Karen. My dear sweet husband, with no access to internet, had called and called until he located Karen at a book publisher in New York. I don't think a present before or after has ever thrilled me like that did. Over the years, I have come to believe that Santa is the kind spirit who exists in our hearts and minds and allows us to believe with a child-like faith. I remember one of my Sunday School students many, many years ago who was a teenager discussing with me about Santa and Jesus at Christmas. Out of the mouths of babes, "When we are little and we believe in Santa, we don't question the why or the how. We just know the IS. We have faith that he exists and that he will provide our every desire. Then, why, when we grow up is it so hard to accept that Jesus does exist and that He will provide our every desire. Why can we believe in the unreal when we have so much proof in the Bible and in our lives about Jesus and the fact He is real, but yet so many don't believe?" I thank God every day for sending His Son to provide for us and give us Christmas 365 days a year.

12/4/09

Christmas Crafts

Each year, my family loves to do Christmas Crafts. One of my favorites was one I did about 30 years ago with Mom and Mawmaw. Over the years, I’ve used it for many things. You cut a square (whatever size you want the basket to be) of chicken wire from a hardware store. We spray painted it gold and hot glued ribbon around the four sides. Then we pulled it together from two corners and used a darning needle and heavy thread to sew the two corners tight.

Then we hot glued our Christmas pick and bow. Since it is 30 years old, it’s a little worn looking, but I don’t want to redo it since Mamaw and Mom helped me make it. It was fun. We used to make all kinds of need things to set around.

12/3/09

Christmas Decorations

The decorations are up and the tree is done. Time to settle back and enjoy the season. As I decorate every year, I take the time to let my memories go back to Christmas's past. My oldest Christmas decoration is a little white plastic wicker basket of poinsettias. I was 5 years old and Mamaw Eden took me to town on the "town bus". She took me to McCroy's to have a hot chocolate and donut while we waited for the stores to open. When we got done eating, we were walking by the end of the aisle and there were these little baskets of poinsettias for 10 cents. Now Mamaw loved poinsettias. I remember every Christmas that her plastic bouquet of poinsettias was the first thing she would set out to begin the Christmas holidays. Mom had a bunch of them, too. It was always a family joke who would get their poinsettias out first after Thanksgiving. Some year Mamaw did and some years Mom did.
Loving poinsettias the way she did and knowing they are my birth month flower, she bought me my own little basket of poinsettias. She said I could start my own tradition that they be the first thing I put out at Christmas.
Well, every year when Mom got the decorations down, I would get my basket and set it out. Here I am 48 years later and it is still the first thing I get out. Mamaw has been gone for 21 years and I still compete with Mom on who got their poinsettias out first. Every time I place that little basket in a place of honor, I think of Mamaw and all the wonderful memories that little plastic basket evokes. I still miss her so much. I know every time I set them out she is looking down and smiling on me.
I've started a tradition with my grandkids of buying them an ornament to hang on my tree each year. When they get married they will recieve their ornaments for their first tree. I can only hope that I touch their lives in such a way that they, too, will have fond memories of me when they hang thier ornaments each year.

12/2/09

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays

I've been away from my blog for a couple of weeks as I prepared for the holidays. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We had the kids and grandkids over and had a great time. As usual, I ate too much. But I counteracted the extra calories by walking all day on Black Friday as I scurried around to catch the sales. As we go into the Christmas season, I love the rush of fighting the crowds to find the perfect gift. Being a December baby, I've often wondered if that is why I love the holidays so much. This will be a busy month with Christmas gatherings, school programs and church plays. There is nothing like watching the little ones as they rehearse their lines or learn their Christmas songs. My oldest grandson who is 10 will be Tiny Tim in the Christmas play at Richardson Cove Baptist Church. He has his line down pat "God bless us, everyone!" Which when you get down to it, that is the bottom line. As we celebrate the birth of Christ, we should count our blessings and realize that without His grace and love, we are nothing.

11/19/09

Who knows?

We recently did a Ladies Bible Study on Queen Esther. There was one thing that really made a profound impact on me.
In Esther 4:14, Mordecai is telling Esther to remain silent, he said "For who knows, whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this."
Truer words were never spoken. Who knows why God places us where he does at the times he does. Who knows what lives we might effect just by being in a certain place at a certain time. Look at your Facebook friends for example.
I get blessed daily from the people I grew up with and went to school with. I haven't seen many of them for years, but I see their Christianity, their family values and their faith in God daily on their Facebook page.
When I joined Facebook, I would never have thought I would learn so much about my friends or be so blessed by them.
But God had a hand in even that. He has a master plan and we just need to follow the blueprint He has given us by following in His word. For "who knows" where and when we will be in a moment "for such a time as this".

11/18/09

Goal Setting

Each of us have dreams and hopes that we want to see come true. We think of things we'd like to have, be or do. But do we strive for them? Do we work hard to make them happen? Or do we sit back an just wish they would drop in our lap. In order to achieve your dreams, you need to set clear defined goals. Many times in my life, I have made a goal list and fell short of achieving them. But just as often, I have been able to reach the pinnacle and obtain the goal. It just depended on the route I took to reach the goal. The key to goal setting is to have a plan of action and follow that plan. It is not just enough to WANT it to happen, you can MAKE it happen. This is the best plan that works for me:
  • Determine what the goal or objective is
  • Prepare a plan of action on what steps to take to reach the goal
  • List any obstacles that could get in your way
  • Decide on the best steps to take to bypass the obstacles
  • Set yourself a reward for reaching your goal
Every time I follow these steps I have either reached my goal or exceeded my goal. So today, I will set my new goals. I'll decide the best steps to take, then I'll implement them with the knowledge that I CAN succeed.

11/17/09

Whatever happened to seasons?

Is it just me or does everyone have a hard time deciding what season it is. When I was growing up, the white shoes, sandals and flip flops were put away until after Easter next year. We bought new "fall" shoes and "fall" jackets. Lightweight with a little lining for those chilly morning. Sweatshirts and blue jeans were the norm to go outside and play in the leaves. Now we see flip flops in the dead of winter. One day it is so cold we are wearing sweaters and digging our winter coats out. The next day it is short sleeves and open toe shoes. It is 63 degrees outside and beautiful. But if you are inside looking out and didn't know the temperature was 63, you would say it looks like it is getting ready to dump a big snow on us. I'm just not sure what is going on. I want spring to feel like spring and fall to feel like fall. I don't want to wear shorts in February and long sleeves in May. I no longer "put" my seasonal close away because I have no idea what season we are in. I think we should just have one season and call it Autwin sprummer. That way, we are covered no matter what the weather decides to do.

11/16/09

The life of a squirrel

I have a yard full of squirrels and I cannot figure out their philosophy on life. We sat here one day and watched one particular squirrel. He came down along the wooden fence with a nut in his mouth. We watched as he scurried along the back yard. He would stop and look up, still holding his hickory nut. He would glance furtively around, looking for spies. He would run a few more feet, stop, and repeat the process. After three or four minutes of this procedure, he would dig a small hole and bury the nut. He then ran around the yard to various spots. He would stop and sniff around. Then he would run back, get the nut and take it to the new spot and bury it. How crazy is that? Apparently, eating a lot of nuts will make a squirrel nuts. He repeated this about four or five times, burying the nut, digging up the nut, over and over. Then he dug it up and ran up on the patio, climbed in my petunia bed and buried it there as it's final resting place. Then he left. He is back this morning. Only this time, he is outside my window on the ledge, eating the bird seed that has fallen from my bird feeder. I slowly opened the blind as to not scare him off. He tried to climb up the window screen. Guess I have a new pet. I think I'll buy a bag of unsalted, shelled nuts and make his job a little easier this winter. Think I'll name him Sammy. Stay tuned for more of his antics as winter progresses.

11/15/09

I am blessed

I Am Blessed Written by Jerry Goff Thru sunshine and rain, even sorrow and pain Jesus is still my comfort and guide. And His love comforts me and His grace has set me free And some day I shall stand by His side. Chorus: I am blessed, I am blessed. Every day that I live I am blessed. When I wake up in the morning, Till I lay my head to rest I am blessed, I am blessed I have shoes for my feet; I have plenty to eat And a home in Heaven by and by Brothers and sisters on this earth, they are mine by my new birth And we shall share in that home beyond the sky.

11/14/09

Gift Ideas

It's that time of year when everyone starts thinking about the perfect Christmas present. You read articles and watch ads to find that one gift that lets that special friend or loved one know how much you care. But it's not the gift that tells them you care. It's the time and thought you put into the gift. One of my favorite gifts to give and to receive are themed gift baskets. But don't buy one pre-made. Customize it to fit the person it is intended for. They don't have to be expensive. Again, remember it is the thought you put into it. I line all my baskets with a cloth napkin placed in it so that the four corners hang out over the sides. Here are some ideas: For Chocolate Lovers: A new coffee cup or mug (pick one with something they like, ie cats, dogs, brown/pink dots, cartoon character, or simply a "I hate mornings" mug) - various flavors of hot chocolate (mint, caramel, regular) - a pretty container filled with miniature marshmallows for the chocolate - a recipe book of chocolate desserts, a large block Hershey bar, for filler use miniature candy bars of their favorite brand. For People who love to read: A rectangle basket that can hold their favorite books - an assortment of inspirational bookmarks - a couple of books by their favorite author or a gift card to their local bookstore - motivational or inspirational books for daily reading, a nice book light for those nights they want to read in bed. For People who are always cold: A soft shawl to drape around their shoulders, a pair of fuzzy socks with slip resistant soles, a pair of warm gloves with matching scarf and/or hat, a pair of fleece pants to lounge around in. These are just a few of the ideas I've used. You can customize baskets for those who love to cook or bake. (this one is good for men, too). Have someone who love costume jewelry? Buy a small basket with a lid and fill it with costume jewelry. You can do one with lotions, soaps and creams for those who like to pamper themselves. If you know someone who loves to do their nails, do one with nail polishes, hand creams, polish remover, manicure sets, emery boards, etc. A birdwatcher on your list? A small set of binoculars, a couple of books on birds, a journal and nice pen to keep a log of their sitings, a small bird feeder to hang outside their window. As you can see, the ideas are limitless. So think about those on your list who are tired of perfume and neckties. The key is to think outside the box, or in the case inside the basket! Happy shopping!

11/13/09

Old autographs

I was looking for something today and came across my autograph book from Christmas 1966. As I flipped through, I was surprised to see many autographs from some of my Facebook friends. That means we go back 43 years. WOW. I was 10 years old. I had to laugh at some of the listing. "If all the boys were across the sea, what a good swimmer Brenda would be". "I'll be yours until butter flies" "Roses are red, violets are blue. Sugar is sweet and so are you. The roses are wilted, the violets are dead. The sugar is rotten and so is your head" (this from my favorite cousin. We loved to exchange funny insults, but were actually very close. Course at 10, who doesn't love insults) And Daddy was so witty. He wrote "You must of been born upside down. Your nose runs and your feet smell." Ha. Ha. But my Aunt Frances wrote something very touching, "When evening draws her curtain and pins it with a star, I'll be thinking of you Brenda. No matter where you are." It brought back so many memories.

11/12/09

Pamper yourself

I took the time yesterday for some major pampering. First, I went and got my hair whacked off. It's short and I love it. I got one of those "run your fingers through with some gel" and go do's.
Then I bought some new hair color and covered the gray. I have never figured out why they cut your hair and it turns gray. Must be something they do, couldn't be because they cut all the old coloring out, right?
Next, I bought some deep purple nail polish. Gorgeous. Just enough of a tint of purple to make it a little "out there". I am a firm believer in the fact that your nail polish color is not a reflection of your age or your attitude...it simply means you like that color.
When I got back home, I had a few miniature Reese's and a glass Pepsi, which I enjoyed while reading my latest romance novel.
Later, I had a long hot soak in lavender scented bubble bath. Again, while reading my newest novel.
Then I proceeded to watch a the Country Music Awards (like I do every year) with hubby.
This pampering process is nothing new to me. I started it when my kids got married six weeks apart. That was in 1998 and I have made sure I pamper myself every chance I get since then.
It's not that hard to do. We all have busy schedules and obligations that keep us hopping. But at some point in the evening, you have to go to bed. If nothing else, delay your bedtime by 30 minutes and soak in a hot sudsy bubble bath before climbing in the bed. There is nothing more relaxing or rewarding at the end of a crazy, hectic day.
So, pamper yourself...you deserve it.

11/11/09

Happy Veteran's Day

Today is dedicated to our Veterans. The proud men who fought for our freedom and dedicated their lives to make our great nation what it is today. My daddy, Luke Garretson, fought in World War II. He was in the Navy and was stationed on an aircraft carrier. Daddy never talked much about the war. When he did, it was little funny stories about his buddies and some of the things they would do. But those stories were few and far between. His ship earned accolades from the Commanding General of the United States Army Air Force's 313th Bombardment Wing who, upon the ship’s detachment from lifeguard duties, sent her a message: “Since you have been our guardian angel of the seas you have returned safely to us 50 combat crewmen. Many of them are flying against the enemy again. We are grateful for the splendid work you have done and wish you all the best of luck.” That was neat to read about. As I've grown older, I wonder if he saws many horrors. Reading the history of his ship, I found where they shot down several Japanese planes, but most of the stories online are the rescue missions they performed when our B29 Bombers had to ditch their planes at sea.
My Daddy was the sweetest, nicest man you would ever want to meet. We were raised in a very loving home and I've always wondered if he didn't talk about the war because he wanted to shelter us from all the atrocities that war brings. Or was it simply a part of his life he didn't want to relive.
I dedicate my page today to the loving memory of my father,
Luther Harden Garretson 1923-1999.

11/9/09

Just when I needed it most.....

We all have those people in our lives who are difficult. They blame someone else when things don't go their way. They do not check out their facts. They simply let their tongue run amok. It could be your next door neighbor, your friend across the way, a customer or co-worker. You all have met them. They do not check out the details of why something happens the way it does, they just start laying blame. Sometimes one person with a negative attitude can bring you down and ruin your day. They can make you feel like things are worse than what they are. They make you feel like you should be apologizing to them for their lot in life. I received an email this morning from my Positive Thinkers group and it said "Success and excuses do not talk to each other. So if you give excuses forget about success and if you want success don't give excuses." It is not my lot in life to let others make me feel guilty for their problems and insecurities. So I am going to start addressing situations in my personal and professional life with a new attitude. I will no longer shoulder the blame for problems others create in their lives. I will keep a positive, yet firm, attitude when I meet against opposition. I will understand that not everyone enjoys their life and they like to find a scapegoat to blame for their failures. I have to much to enjoy in my life to let one person make me feel like a failure. I will not let the cold, uncaring remarks of one person ruin my day.

11/8/09

At what age are you considered old?

I heard a remark many years ago that age is a matter of the mind...if you don't mind, it doesn't matter. How true this is. I'm in my mid-fifties. Is that old or not? It depends on your perspective. If you watch a 6 year old prance around, jump and bounce and run. You think how nice it would be to have that kind of energy again. But you watch a kind senior as they struggle to climb the steps or to get in and out of cars and you realize how blessed you are to get around good. So is age all about perception and comparisons? Compared to a 5 year old, 50 is OLD. But sit and visit with someone nearing 90 and you will realize how many good years you have left. So, to me age IS definitely a matter of the mind. So it doesn't matter how old you are, it's what you do with the precious time you are given. Enjoy life to the fullest every moment of everyday. And don't worry about if you are old, just be glad you are alive.

11/7/09

Best Friends Forever

I remember growing up and having a lot of friends. Girls who went to church with me. Girls who I knew at school. Girls who were my cousins as well as my friend. But there was one who was my best friend. You know the type. The one you share all your deepest secrets and feelings with. The one who is a part of the crazy things you do.... those things that all you have to do is say "remember driving past that little house" and they crack up laughing with you and everybody else stares at you like you are nuts. She's the one who will walk a mile and a half with you to the local Burger Chef, just to pass a cute guy that hangs out on the corner uptown. She's the one who you call before the skating party for church and ask "What are you wearing?" She's the one that co-ordinates her clothes with yours so the two of you feel like you fit in. She's the one who lays awake at the sleepover listening with you to Elvis sing "You Were Always on my Mind" as you bemoan the loss of your first true love. She's the one who you grow up with, then move away and don't see each other for years at a time. Then one day, when you meet again, you slip back into the laughter the shared secrets and the girlish giggles. She's the one who sits with you while you cry at the loss of your father. She's the one who, years later, loses her father so you travel over 300 mile to be there for her like she was for you. She's the one who, no matter what life throws your way, no matter how much time passes by, no matter how long it's been since you spoke, you will think of her when you see the "Best Friends Forever" on clothing or key chains or notebooks of today's young girls. And you will smile. Because you know that through the years and through the changing times, you are truly Best Friends Forever. So for my best friend, Teresa, I love you and miss you and hope you are doing well.

11/6/09

What color is YOUR eyeshadow?

This has been one of those items over the years that has had me baffled. I have been to Mary Kay parties, Merle Norman consultations, Beauty Control parties. I've read fashion magazines and listened to make-up experts on TV. And I'm still baffled. I've been told that my eyeshadow needs to match my eyes, that it needs to compliment my eyes and that it needs to match my clothing. Which is it? I have deep blue eyes. When I wear my blue eye shadow, it makes them really stand out and I get constant rave reviews about how beautiful they look. Then one day, some "kind" friend, says "Why do you wear blue eye shadow? That is so out-dated. Everybody wears brown now." So I switched to brown. I never get any comments on my eyes or how blue they are or how good they look. So why do I have to wear brown.
In my teen years I experimented with green when we were told never to match your eye shadow with your eye color. One boy on our road saw the green and asked me why I wore "frog do do" on my eyes. Needless to say I have NEVER owned green eye shadow since that happened. And more importantly who cares. If brown is the "acceptable" eye shadow shade, why can you buy it in all shades of blue, gray, violet, brown, green, everything. There is a bountiful smorgasbord of eye shadow out there. Who determines what we should wear and when it is "in style" and when it is not. I think I'll wear my blue for the simple fact that I like it and not worry about what others think. The older I get the more I realize I want to wear what makes ME feel good about myself, not what others think I should wear. Some days, the only eye shadow I wear are the dark circles under my eyes from laying awake at night while these non-sensical ideas such as the color of eye shadow float through my mind.

11/5/09

It's going to be one of those days

You know it's going to be one of those days when..... ....your 15 month old grandbaby locks herself in the car - alone. ....you drive all the way to the post office to mail that all important package with a deadline, only to find out the package is at home on the kitchen table ....you write your check to the city to pay for trash pick up only you sign your check with the last name of Garbage by mistake ....you pull up and place a food order at Krystals and they actually repeat it back correctly. You pay and then proceed to drive off without your order. ....you pull up to the drive through at McDonald's with a car full of kids. You turn to shush the kids and turn back around to find out you have been placing your order with the trash can. ....you put your bra on backwards and it fits better ....you are in and out of the machine shop all day. You look good. Gorgeous dress, high heels, the works. As the day ends, one of the guys tells you he has been nominated to ask what the lump on your butt is. You rush to the bathroom only to discover that you have a wadded up wash cloth static clinging inside your dress. Yes, these things have either happened to me or to a member of my family. We all have those "days" when you just know you would have been better off in bed. But just smile and know that this too shall pass.....and with my luck, something worse will take it's place.

11/4/09

You've always heard it said that everything looks darkest right before the dawn. This is true. A good night's sleep can refresh your mind, your body and your soul. One of my favorite gospel songs is Come Morning. It is so uplifting and peaceful. No matter what our cross is to bear, we will always face the morning knowing the Lord has brought us through the night. Here are the words: "Come Morning" God's children too long have been burdened They are longing for Heaven's green shore Where heartaches are left far behind us And the burdens are carried no more. Chorus Come morning, I'll walk by the river And I'll rest 'neath the evergreen tree. And I'll carry my cross thru the midnight. Come morning, there's glory for me. Sometimes I'm despised and rejected And I question oh Father, how long? And then I'll take one more look at Mount Calvary, Then it gives me the strength to go on. Chorus Come morning, I'll walk by the river And I'll rest 'neath the evergreen tree. And I'll carry my cross thru the midnight. Come morning, there's glory for me.

11/3/09

"Desire is the key to motivation, but it's determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal - a commitment to excellence - that will enable you to attain the success you seek." - Mario Andretti This is one of my favorite motivational quotes. Without goals and dreams to look for in our future, we simply exist from day to day. Everyone has goals and they may not realize it. It could be a far off dream of some day retiring to sunny Florida. It may be to save enough money to purchase that new car you have your eye on. Or it may simply be a day spent with family. We all have plans and dreams of things we want to achieve, places we want to go and hopes we want to fulfill. The desire for these dreams will motivate and excite. But without a plan of action and determination, we will never achieve those dreams. Your greatest desires should be the things you work toward with determination and commitment, in hopes of fulfilling those dreams. We are not far from 2010. Ask yourself what goals and dreams you will have for the New Year. Start thinking now about the things you need to do to achieve those dreams and go after it with a determined spirit and a mind-set of YES, I CAN.

11/2/09

Our blessings

Yesterday I had the privilege of being the leader for Children's church. I had a mixture of boys and girls from ages 6 - 9. When we had completed the lesson, the singing, the praying, and the activities suggested for that day, we still had some time left. I decided to discuss this being the month for giving thanks and asked everyone to think a moment about the important things in their life and what they were thankful for. I found it oddly amusing the different answers between boys and girls. The boys answers ranged from my X-Box, my football, getting to play soccer, my DS, etc. Most of them were thankful for either a material item or a chance to be on a sports team. When I polled the girls, I was amazed at the depth of difference. The girls were thankful for their parents, their family, their health, their friends. But one girl blew me away. In all the years of giving thanks for everything I am blessed with and all my years hearing others give their testimonies and their blessings, I have never heard this answer. When I asked one young girl of 9 what she was most thankful for, without hesitation, she simply said Life. How true is that. When you get right down to the nitty-gritty, that one simple word covers it all. Life. The simple, beautiful act of simply being. Everything we have, everything we are and everything we do is because we have Life. What a poignant answer so filled with reverance and awe that God can give us the one thing that nothing or nobody else can. Life. Out of the mouth of babes. It is definitely food for thought.

11/1/09

The Day After

We had a whopping 2 trick or treaters last night, which is one more than we had last year. I guess that's the problem with living at the bottom of a long hill. We were smart though, we did buy only candy that we like. Every year, I buy those huge bags of assorted and end up with junk we don't like and it hangs around till Easter - just in case.
My grandchildren were all adorable for Halloween. Garret was a Star Wars Clone Trooper and Alexis was Cinderella. Caleb was a Transformer and Shelby was Snow White. So I guess we are raising Warriors and Princesses.
I am 52 years old and this is the first time ever I forgot to set my clock back. I blame it on them changing it to the same night as Halloween. I'm old. I can't handle two events on the same night.
I never set an alarm clock because my internal alarm goes off between 6:00 and 6:30 every morning. Once in a blue moon, I sleep until almost 7:00 and feel like I'm behind all day. I woke up this morning and it was 6:10. I thought to myself, "I don't want to get up right now" The bed felt good and warm and I knew the house would have a slight chill. I laid there a few minutes and thought I'd better go ahead and get up. So I got, laid my clothes out for church and had a bite for breakfast. Around 6:30, I decided to see what happened on Facebook last night (my version of a soap opera). I'm sitting there reading and admiring pictures and for some reason the bottom corner of my computer screen caught my eye. You guessed it, it was 5:30. I was so mad. By this time, I was too wide awake to crawl back in the bed. I guess my internal clock is going to get switched to an alarm clock. I'm not going to get up at 5:00 everyday just because my body feels like it's 6:00. Why did we ever start this switching of time anyway?

10/31/09

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween. I hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable day today. I remember growing up and the excitement of preparing for Halloween. We always had homemade costumes: Gypsies, housewives, hobos. I remember taking gold rings from Mason canning jars, tying a piece of yarn through it to make a loop, then put the loops around are ears. It may awesome dangling earrings for our gypsy outfits. My fondest memory was the year me and Rachel went as housewives. We were Mom's old "house dresses". She tied scarves around our heads like we were getting ready to do housework. We got to wear rouge and lipstick. I remember Mom taking pillows and folding them up to place in the front of the dress. She would put a belt around us under the pillows as they became our "womanly chest". However, by the time you walked all over the streets of Barboursville for 3 hours going door to door, running from yard to yard, our "chest" had slid down to our waste. Now instead of a nice rounded figure, we looked like we were pregnant. It was hilarious when I think back on it. I miss those days of dressing up and being carefree. And I especially miss the free candy! Please have a safe Halloween.

10/30/09

Winding Down October

When did the holidays start to blend together? We are not out of October yet and I'm seeing Christmas commercials on TV. Yesterday, J.C. Penny's had stuffed Frosty's and Rudolph's on sale. Christmas decorations were already on some of their shelves.
It seems like the holidays start earlier and earlier each year. Thanksgiving tablecloths and turkey platters have been on the shelves since early October right beside the ghosts and goblins for Halloween.
I love the holidays, but I like to enjoy one before I start preparing for the next one. We have become so commercialized that it's all about the marketing and exploiting of the holidays and not the joy of spending time with our family or giving thanks for our blessings.
I challenge each of you to start November as a month of thanks. Life gets us down and things don't always go our way. It is so hard to focus on the bad things we go through and forget the good. Purchase you a new journal or small diary. Every morning when you get up and pour that first cup of coffee or fix that first glass of Pepsi, write down one thing you have to be thankful for. Not just the majors: food, roof, family, health; but the little things. We all realize the big things even though we take them for granted sometimes. But dig down deep and find one thing about each particular day that you have to be thankful for. It may be the fact that you have a full tank of gas and won't have to stop at the station that day. Maybe you are having lunch with a co-worker who is special to you. Maybe you took the time to do your nails and love the new color. Whatever makes your day get off to a good start by making you smile, should be written in your journal.
You will be surprised how focusing on the "little things" will make the stress in your life lift just a little. Keeping our spirits up in trying times is one of the ways we keep our sanity. Find the joy in your life every day in November. On Thanksgiving morning, before you start your day, read the journal and smile at all the things you have to be thankful for.

10/29/09

Happy Birthday to the Internet

Forty years ago today, the first connection was made between remote computers at UCLA and Stanford Research Institute in which bits of data was transferred. This connection would lead to ARPNET, the forbearer of the Internet. The plan was unprecedented: Kleinrock, a pioneering computer science professor at UCLA, and his small group of graduate students hoped to log onto the Stanford computer and try to send it some data. They would start by typing "login," and seeing if the letters appeared on the far-off monitor. "We set up a telephone connection between us and the guys at SRI...," Kleinrock ... said in an interview: "We typed the L and we asked on the phone, "Do you see the L?" "Yes, we see the L," came the response. "We typed the O, and we asked, "Do you see the O." "Yes, we see the O." "Then we typed the G, and the system crashed"... Yet a revolution had begun"... Now, today, we not only see the L, the O or the G. We see each others thoughts and feelings. We see products that astound and deals we can't pass up. We can see a baby from miles away minutes after it is born. We can watch videos of our favorite music. We can talk for hours on instant messaging without paying long distance phone bills. We can send letters to loved ones in long detailed emails and attach photos without paying the price for stamps or printed photos. We can purchase a 99 cent item on E-Bay and have it shipped from Hong Kong with no shipping charges. We could start a new saving program. Put the cost of a stamp in a jar every time you send an email letter to someone you would normally send a letter to. Deposit the cost of a greeting card in your savings when you send out your Christmas cards as e-cards. Yes, you may pay anywhere from $10 - $30 per month for your Internet, but how much are you saving on the postage, envelopes, stationary, cards and calls. It is astounding if you stop to think about. So hats off to those brilliant minds who changed the communication of the future by asking, "Do you see the L"

10/28/09

Soar like an eagle

I was sitting here at my desk watching the river when an eagle glided down across the water and scooped up a fish. He flew into the trees across the river to enjoy his meal. Following close behind was his companion. She flew down the river and circled back and glided up into the trees to join him. What majestic beauty.
Watching the wild eagles never ceases to amaze me. Such a bold and beautiful creature. A symbol of courage and freedom. From their creation, they have stood for strength and honor.
Once they find their mate, they are paired for life until one dies. Bald eagles can fly to an altitude of 10,000 feet. During level flight, they can achieve speeds of about 30 to 35 mph. Such majesty is a site to behold.
We, too, should face our challenges with strength and honor. We should soar above the things in the world that bring us down. We should stay strong and keep the faith. We should stand proud and courageous.
"But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew [their] strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; [and] they shall walk, and not faint." - Isaiah 40:31

10/27/09

Oh, the joys of blogging

I was so excited to start my blog. I have always wanted a place to put my random thoughts. I never realized how hard it is to have random thoughts until I had to write them down everyday. What to focus on today....Hmm... That is the joy of a blog vs. writing a book. Each blog can stand individually and you can pick and choose your topic of the day. Today I want to write about holiday excitement. Once Halloween is over, it seems like the holidays fly by. There is so much planning to do. I have already made my menu for Thanksgiving. Every year we have the same foods. Tradition. We even have the same basic desserts: pumpkin pie, graham cracker pie, pecan pie and a chocolate cake or brownie for the ones who don't like pie. Being a list freak anyway, the holidays cause me to become fanatic about my lists. We all have our own little quirks and I can't believe I am airing mine on the Internet, but here it goes: Even my lists have lists. I start with your basic menu...a list of every dish we want to fix. I place it in an excel form. Then I go through each item and make a list of every ingredient that is needed to prepare the dish. Then I cross reference the items, remove duplicates and walah! You have an instant grocery list. I then check the kitchen cupboards, freezer and fridge to see what we have already and mark it off the list. Over the next month, we will slowly stock up on the canned goods and non-perishables so we don't have as much shopping to do the week of the big event. As we buy something, I mark it off my master list. Now for the really ironic part of all this. My husband does the cooking and the main shopping, I just go along for the ride. He just picks up things off the shelf he knows we need and I discretely mark it off my list. With my month of preparation and my intense list making, he gets up the morning of the final shopping trip, opens cabinet doors and checks the fridge and is able to mentally make the list of what we need. AND HE NEVER MISSES AN ITEM. Oh, to be able to be that good and not need a list.

10/26/09

God's Work

God truly works in mysterious ways, and sometimes he works FAST. I have been struggling all week over something and in my mind, it had become very stressful. In church yesterday morning, I gave up the fight and prayed about it. Twenty minutes after church was over my prayer was answered. Think of the aggravation I could have saved had I only prayed about it a week ago. How many times do you struggle with plans or situations only to find that God had the answer the whole time, you just forgot to ask him for it. It's much like watching your little one learning to tie his shoe. He will struggle and mess it up and have to start over and try again. Yet, you patiently have to stand there and wait for him to ask for help. Even though your first instinct is just to bend down and do it. Our relationship with God is much like that. He watches us as we struggle to handle what life throws our way. It must be difficult for Him to watch, knowing that all we have to do is ask and He will step in and take control. So when life's problems get you down, no matter how big or how little, just let go and let God. He will provide a way.

10/25/09

Sunday's

We grew up in church. In our family, you started church as soon as you were old enough to take into public after you were born. They had a cradle roll and all new babies had little cradles on the wall with their names on one. My parents did not drive so we would walk about a mile to church every Sunday morning. Bad weather didn't keep us away. Back then, women and girls did not wear pants to church. I remember weather so cold and bad that we would wear pants and galoshes under our dresses and then take them off when we got to church. Many Sunday's we would go to Mamaw Eden's for Sunday dinner after church services. The whole family we go. My parents and siblings, aunt's, uncle's, cousins. There would be about 20 of us in a little one bedroom apartment. I think back about what did we eat, who ate where, how did we all fit in there. I don't remember much of those details, but I do remember there was always ice tea and lemon. I grew up in a family of tea drinkers. They love their ice tea. There was always a pitcher of it ready at any family get together. I was the oddity. I did not and still do not drink tea. The only time in my life I ever drank tea was at Mamaw Eden's at those Sunday dinners. Never figured out why I did it then. If we didn't go to Mamaw's, then Mom always fixed a big Sunday dinner. And most importantly, we almost always had cake or pie. My favorites were chocolate cake with chocolate icing and a big bowl of cold peaches to go along with it. We also had spice cake with caramel icing, white cakes and yellow cakes, chocolate pie, graham cracker pie, and lemon meringue pie. Now I've made myself hungry. Think I'll whip up a cake for Sunday dinner today.

10/24/09

The Date

Over the years, a marriage grows stronger and love deepens for that special someone. There are articles written, debates given and TV advice given that provides us with a wealth of information on how to have a successful marriage. We each attribute our marriage longevity to various reasons and everyone has their own opinion. For me, I think the keep is to not only love each other, but to become best friends with your spouse. Think back to those first days when you met. The excitement of going out on a day. What time will he pick me up? Where will we go? What will I wear? Too many of us lose site of those oh so special early days of a relationship. We get "comfortable" in our marriage. We know longer need to make sure our hair is done and make up on before they see us. They have lived with us and know us at our best and at our worst. But that doesn't mean they no longer have those same feelings they had when you were dating. Dating your husband is one of the greatest joys in life. It doesn't have to be anything elaborate. Just a simple dinner out, going somewhere you normally don't go or going back to a special place you enjoy. It can be as simple as shopping together for a special item or getting out of the house for the day and just being together. And even though he loves you just the same, makeup or not, take a little time to look special just for him. So fix that hair and slat on a little makeup and go out and enjoy the day together.

10/22/09

When it's a good thing, it's a God thing.

Today is a beautiful day. The sun is shining, the birds are singing. Life is good. And I'm chained to my desk. The benefit of having your own business is being able to work your own hours and take off when you want. One of the bad points of having your own business is sometimes you just can't take off. Today is one of those days. It's 3:00 and I took a break to walk up to the mailbox and had 2 phone calls and 6 new emails while I was outside...and it's a short walk. Eighteen months ago, I woke up and thought "I'm going to quit my job and start my own business." So I did. That same day. I hoped to be able to do well enough to keep my head above water. The Lord has really blessed me. I have over 70 clients and stay very busy. He has also blessed me with a wonderful assistant who takes a lot of the pressure off just by being a good friend and letting me vent. I have worked over the years with many people who could not be trusted, who did not like to work, who did not care about the company they worked for. I thank the Lord everyday for sending me someone who's work ethics are like mine and who really enjoys what she does. She has been a Godsend since day one. When I decided to expand, I had someone in mind but didn't know if she wanted to work from home or not. One day, I just sent her an email and asked. She had been praying that very day to find work she could do from home. And, as they say, the rest is history. He knew what He was doing when he matched us together. Some may say it was coincidence, others may call it fate. But my friend and co-worker says it best ..... "It's a God thing."

10/21/09

The Way we Were

The older I get, the fonder my memories seem to be. I like to sit and think about things that take me back to my childhood days. The sites, the sounds, the smells. The little things that put a smile on my lips. Playing jacks, jumping rope, leap frog, right-foot still, tag, hide and seek, Easter egg hunts, trick-or-treat, church Christmas plays, frilly dresses and white patent leather shoes for Easter. White straw purses and little white gloves. Playing house, playing school, playing restuarant. Playing with my brother-cars, trucks, marbles, horses, cowboys and indians. Eating Tootsie pops and looking for the Indian on the wrapper that meant you were going to have good luck. Walking to the store with a quarter and buying a bag of penny candy - straws, Kits, BB Bats, Sixlets. Getting library books and having cheese sandwiches and grape Kool-aid with lemon on a blanket under the shade tree while we read the new books. Walking uptown once a week to get an ice cream cone from the corner grill. Drinking ice cold water from a ladel and bucket at Mrs. Gibson's house. Long Sunday afternoon walks in the woods, on the golf course or up to the cow pasture. Mamaw's bathroom smelling like Dove soap. Mom washing our hair with Prell shampoo and rolling it on pink spongy curlers. Free cups in Quaker Oatmeal, free dishrags and dishtowels in laundry detergent. Wringer washers and clothes hanging out on the line. Tents made from blankets on the clothesline. Badminton, baseball and football games in the yard, the ice cream man. Homemade cakes, pies, candy and cookies. Milk in glass jugs with paper caps for the lid. The milk man. Archie comics, Richie Rich, Casper and Wendy. And always and forever Mommy and Daddy and their love holding us all together.

10/20/09

Sisters

I want to wish my sister a very happy birthday today. We is my older sister by 14 months. We were inseparable growing up and though we are over 300 miles apart, we are as close today as we were back then. I know it couldn't always have been easy having a kid sister hanging around, but she never made me feel unwanted. I want to dedicate my blog today to my sister, Rachel. Happy birthday. I love you. Sisters When she was one, she approached the crib. Her small steps were slow and a little unsteady as she was but a mere babe herself. The folks had tried to explain this little creature to her. But she did not understand. She gazed in awe at the little one and wondered, what exactly is this thing they call "Sisters"? But so much is not understood when you are one. When she was six, she could hardly sleep. She whispered across the room to her sister. "Tomorrow is the first day of school and I can't wait to go, but I hate to leave you." The kid sister just smiled. She knows her big sister has no choice. For that's how it is when you are six. When she was thirteen, she sat in her room trying to read. She's thinking what a pain kid sisters can be. All she wants is her own room. But all she gets is a kid sister who is a pain in the neck. But that's how it is when you are thirteen. When she was sixteen, she learned to drive. She discovered it's pretty good having a kid sister. Parents are less suspecting if you offer to take Sis along. But sometimes kid sisters can be so immature and embarrassing in front of the boys. But that's how it is when you're sixteen. When she is eighteen, she sits in the room they shared and stares at the wall. Tomorrow she will wed. A lone, silent tear slowly glides down her cheek. She thinks back on the times they've shared and the memories they've made. So much time has passed and so much love has grown. As she starts her new life, she knows she will never be alone. That other half will always be with her in her heart. Cause that's how it is when you're sisters.

10/19/09

Feed the birds

As we come upon the cooler season, don't forget to put out feed for your winter friends. My summer flowers died off last week that hang outside my window. As I took them down, I thought of all the vivid colors I was going to miss seeing every day.
I decided to attract some of the neighborhood birdies by hanging a bird feeder. The activity has been unbelievable. I've had a pair of Carolina wrens, a pair of tufted titmouse, and a beautiful little chickadee so far. They make a hundred trips a day to the feeder. My feeder is on a shepherds hook right outside my window. My desk is right in front of the window. We have a lot of bird activity in our yard. Just yesterday, I watched a belted kingfisher (see photo) as he perched on a branch in a dead tree on the river bank. We see those frequently. They will sit and wait patiently before diving down in the river to catch a fresh fish.
We've seen scarlet tanagers, indigo buntings, bluebirds, blue jays, cardinals, finches, just about everything you can imagine.
On the river we have mallards, Canadian geese, Bald eagles, and herons. It is so much fun to watch them scoop fish out of the river and land on the far bank for lunch.
In the winter, there are a variety of birds that migrate from Canada to Tennessee for the winter months. So I'm looking forward to having these "visitors" and seeing what will land on my bird feeder. As I'm typing I'm listening to the chirping of the chickadee as he fusses at the titmouse to run him off the feeder. The chickadee won. He's enjoying his breakfast now.
Have a great day and check out the birds in your yard.

10/18/09

A Beautiful Day

Oh what a beautiful morning! I'm sitting here looking outside the window. There is a light dew on the grass. The temperature is a crisp 40 degrees. A slight mist is rising off the river, but you can see the sunshine starting to break through. I woke up with aches and pains all over this morning. I really overdid it yesterday. I have got to remember I'm not 26 anymore. I heard a saying many years ago and it really stuck with me. "You don't quit playing because you get old; you get old because you quit playing" I have adopted that philosophy for the past 10 years. Many women see becoming a grandmother as a sign of age. A time to settle down and accept old age gracefully. Not me! I see being a grandmother as an opportunity to relive my youth. A time to get out the games and the toys and be young again. A time to remember what it is like to be a child and have your whole life ahead of you. A grandmother's job is to love her grandchildren. It's that simple. Grandma's have their own set of rules. We get to let them stay up late. We can feed them ice cream for breakfast once in a while. We can buy them something totally frivolous.....just because they want it. We can say "heck with the housework" and sit in the floor for hours playing dinosaurs, hauling in semi's, reading books, or feeding dolls. And not feel a moment's guilt. So I'll continue to play and have a good time. I'll deal with the aches and pains as they come. But most of all, I'll enjoy these "grandma" years before they get older and too busy with friends to visit much.

10/16/09

Life is precious - Enjoy every moment

I have been away for a few days in West Virginia. They say that death comes in threes. I am starting to notice this more and more as I get older. In this past week, I have had three deaths of people who were special to me. My friend for over 50 years lost her father. We grew up as neighbors and spent many, many hours at each others houses. Even though we all have grown and went our separate ways, we have remained in touch. My cousin's wife passed away this week after years of being ill. She was the first one to introduce me to "smores". I think of her often and know that she will be missed dearly. My second grade teacher, who was also my daughter's first grade teacher, made a huge impact on everyone who's life she touched. She passed away this week after a long illness. They will be holding a memorial for her later in the month. I was able to attend one of the visitations. I saw people who I haven't seen in over 30 years or more. It was amazing to see that we could sit down and have conversations and visit and be so relaxed with each other. It was like I just saw them yesterday. No awkward silences, no "what do I say". These people touched my life in one way or another from the time I was old enough to walk and talk. Each one had some type of memory that we shared. As I think back on all the memories I have thanks to the people I grew up with and the neighbors we had, I thank God for those good time. Stop and take the time to enjoy the simple moments, the laughter, and the joys you find each day. You never know whose life you are touching and what fond memories you are making for them to enjoy in their golden years.

10/12/09

Thoughts in time

Time is an essence. It is a since of peace and tranquility. To some, time is something to be passed as they wait for the "big break" or look for their ship to come in. To others, it is something simply to be tolerated and has no meaning. To me, time is a precious gift. It's the breath of life. It was created for us to enjoy, not to rush through. So instead of thinking about all you have to do today. Take some time, and just be thankful for all you have, all you are and all you can be. Have a great day.

10/11/09

The Walk

Do you ever watch someones life and notice the things they do that are not pleasing to God? Then you see them in church and watch as they praise the Lord and you wonder why they lead two different live? It is not our place to judge. But many times, we cannot help ourselves. We have all heard it said that when you point a finger at someone, three are pointing right back at you. Are there things in our lives that others see and judge us by? Do we set a good example of living a good Christian life? How many times have you heard someone say, "Well, if Bob is a Christian, so am I." We should be setting an example of God's love and mercy. We should stand by our beliefs at all times and not follow the crowd. What does your Christian walk in life say about you? The Walk When you look at my walk, you should see the Lord in my face. When you look how I live, you should see mercy and grace. But if I walk with the world, while my faith I confess; Will you start to question if I’m truly blessed? Will you not wonder about the truth of my words? Will you start to doubt if I really love the Lord? For if I start to walk with sinners in their ways, Will you start to wonder if I’ve went astray. So let my heart lead me. Let God be my guide, With angels around me and the Lord at my side. So keep my heart pure and keep my heart free. And if you should look, the Lord you will see. Have a blessed Sunday!

10/10/09

When Love Comes

Love comes in many forms and fashions. It's the overwhelming need to be near a special person. It's the deep, heartfelt satisfaction of knowing you are loved in return. It's a kindness and caring that makes you put the other person's needs and wants first. It a feeling between a husband and wife, when they share a secret smile across the room. It's the touch of a loving hand on your shoulder when you are having a bad day. It's a hug for no reason or a peck on the cheek. It's the placement of a hand on the small of your back as you down through a store. It's the mutual satisfaction of a job well done or a task completed. It's the tender arm casually wrapped around you while you sleep. It's a feeling between and mother and child. It's the joy that child brings when he conquers something new. The praise you lavish on it when it aces a spelling test or learns new math formulas. It's the laughter you share when they act silly, dancing and darting around the room. It's gentle smile a mother gives when that same active child is tucked quietly in bed at night. It's a feeling between a grandmother and her grandchildren. It's the awe and wonder that your heart feels when you hold each of those special gifts for the first time. It's the astonished that you feel that you still have so much love in your heart to give. It's the joy you feel when that precious grandchild, in a room full of family, wants to sit on YOUR lap or lay in YOUR arms. It's the smile that lights their eyes when they enter a room and run to you, arms open, with a big hug and kiss and a sweet precious "Hi mamaw". It's a feeling between mother-in-laws and their in-law children because you know how much joy that son-in-law and daughter-in-law bring into the lives of your child. It's the thankfulness you feel when you know your child has chosen well. It's the thrill of pleasure when you see the beautiful children that would not be who they are if it were not for both their parents. It's the peace and contentment of having a full family around the kitchen table again for the holidays. It's a feeling between siblings that outlasts all others. It's a common thread that binds us with the memories of our childhood. It's knowing when you move away, there is someone back home that cares and someone that will look after your parents when you aren't there. It's a feeling between friends as you share happy memories of days gone by. It's the laughter you share over an embarrassing moment that you can share with no one but a true friend. It's picking up the phone and calling because you are having a bad day. It's hanging up the phone and knowing your day is better just because you have such a good friend. It's being able to vent and knowing that the friend will take your side...no matter what. It's knowing that in an emergency, when family is not available, you still have someone to turn to. So to my husband, to my son, to my daughter, to my daughter-in-law, to my son-in-law, to my mother & father, to my siblings, to my friends and to the four most special people in my life, my grandchildren, I love you. Thanks for giving me your love in return.

10/9/09

My lists have lists

My name is Brenda Keefer and I am a list-aholic. That's right, I'm obsessed about having a "list". No matter what the occasion. I have to-do lists for my job, honey-do lists for my husband, lists for my shopping, anything that can be listed. If it can be done, seen, bought or used, I probably have a list somewhere for it. Sometimes I'm proud of my lists and sometimes, like yesterday I think I get a little over the top with it. Allen and I went on our weekly "outing". We decided to go to Sam's and price supplies for an upcoming workshop for my clients. We get there and are approaching the aisle with the items we were wanting to price. I efficiently reached inside my purse to pull out my list. OH NO! I didn't have my list. I didn't even have a notebook or pen in my purse (I had just changed purses that morning). This was not good. I actually stood there in a panic, thinking "What are we going to do? What am I supposed to be looking at? What will I write the prices on." That's when I realized it. I'm addicted to lists. How did I get to this point? When did I become so dependent on pen and paper and quit using my memory? I bet there are other ways to stay organized. I'm sure many times it is a habit and I don't even need the list. I'm going to have to give this some thought. I might just have to make a list of my other options. Oh no, here we go again.....

10/8/09

Why are we shocked?

From the time we are a little child, we are taught to pray. We learn "God is great, God is good." We kneel down at bedtime for "Now I lay me down to sleep". When we grow up in church, we have prayer in Sunday School class. We pray during the singing in church. We pray before the preacher preaches and again for the altar call. Then we pray again to close the service. In our daily lives, we take time to pray when something bothers us. We pray for those around us. We pray for a multitude of reasons. We are taught that if we pray in faith believing, God will answer. We even pray for God to strengthen our faith. With all this praying, you would think we would be conditioned to know that his answer was a done deal. But I have noticed lately, many of the people I come into contact with show remarkable surprise when their prayers are answered. We, as a whole, believe in the power of prayer. Yet when God shows up with the answer, we react with "Oh my gosh! I just prayed for that to happen." Like it is a great mystery as to why or how our prayer was answered. There should be no surprise. Faith is believing in something you cannot see. It is an automatic acceptance with no "what if's". Yet, as we exercise our faith that we believe God will provide, we still jump back in amazement and say "WOW" when he does. If we pray with a childlike heart and an acceptance that it is a done deal, we should see a great many more of our prayers being answered. Jesus said it best when he said: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you"

10/7/09

What I Like About Fall

Fall is not a season. Fall is a place to be visited in our memories. Growing up, fall was a special time for us. Friday's in fall were for football. Daddy never missed a home game of the Barboursville Pirates. When we were young, Dad would head out to the football game with his jacket and sometimes his umbrella. We would gather in the yard to play as the evening sun set and the temperature would drop. Rachel and I would do cheers and cartwheels as we rooted for our team, even though we weren't at the game. Jack and Andy would be playing football in the yard. When dark would start to settle in up our hollow, Mom would call us in. We would get our baths and put on our pajamas. Then we would settle down to watch our black and white TV. Mom would always have a package of Saps Glazed Donuts and would make us big cups of hot chocolate with marshmallows. As we got older, we were allowed to go to the game sometimes with Dad. My parents never drove so we didn't own a car. It was about a mile walk to the football field. Those cool October evenings turned even colder after the game as we walked up the hollow to the house. Nothing was more inviting than walking in from the cold, crisp fall air to the aroma of hot chocolate and the sweet taste of glazed donuts waiting for us. Memories like this are why I like fall. Think I'll go make me a cup of hot chocolate.

10/6/09

Food for thought

Do you ever receive those "get to know me" emails? The ones where you change the answers to fit you and pass it on to your friends to get to know everybody better? Guilty. I'm one of those senders who loves to find out more about the people I know. One thing that I have found is that inevitably there is a question about food. Have you ever noticed that their is always a question somewhere in the list that the answer just has to be "Chocolate". Whether it is your favorite comfort food, your favorite dessert or you favorite ice cream flavor, chocolate receive an overwhelming acknowledgement. It can comfort you in times of stress. It brings extreme pleasure to your taste buds. No other food on earth can make a person forget everything and smile with a deep sign when they take that first bite of chocolate for the day. But it occurs to me that if you have respect for chocolate, you must acknowledge its counterpart....peanut butter. You never see anyone say "peanut butter cookies" or "peanut butter fudge" as their favorite. I make a peanut butter fudge that is the best I've ever had. In honor of peanut butter lovers everywhere, I'd like to share the recipe with you. PREP: Grease a 9 x 13 cake pan with butter 4 cups sugar 1 can Carnation Evaporated Milk (12 oz) Mix together and place on burner over medium heat. Stir the entire time you make this or it will scorch. When it comes to a full boil, continue to stir for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add: 1 bag Reese's Peanut Butter Baking Chips 1 Stick Parkay Margarine Beat until Reese chips are melted. Pour in a prepared cake pan. Refrigerate. As it starts to set up, cut into slices. Keep refrigerated. I have had people who make this and substitute the Parkay or Carnation for different brands and they tell me it makes a big different. Stick with what is suggested if possible. Let me know what you think of it when you try it. Have a happy day!

10/5/09

The File Cabinet

My heart is like a drawer, for each thing there is a file. Some stay there forever and some for just a while. One day as I was kneeling, the Lord began to look. As he saw the files I kept, I watched as his head shook. “My child, this will not do. These files do not belong. You felt that you would need them all, but oh you were so wrong.” I watched as He flipped through them, reading every tab. Leaving in the good ones and pulling out the bad. He left in peace and kindness, but hate went in the trash. It was followed by greed and gossip. They were destined to be ash. He pulled out jealousy and fear, but left in hope and faith. I watched as He worked diligently; determination on his face. When all the wickedness was gone, empty slots could be seen. I watched His face light up with joy; his eyes began to gleam. He filled each empty folder with all the love that it would hold. He slipped them back into my heart to stay as I grow old. He dusted off His hands and said “I’m finished. I must be on my way. Now that we’ve cleaned out those old files, I’m in your heart to stay. For though you thought I’d left you and you wondered where I’d been, I was here all along just waiting for room to enter in.”

10/4/09

By the Dawn's Early Light

I was just fixing my hot chocolate and opening the curtains as I was waiting for the sun to rise. For some reason, it made me think of the line in the Star Spangled Banner, "by the dawn's early light." Any of you that know me well, know that I will "google" anything that hits my fancy of the moment. You guessed it, I googled our national anthem. I found several interesting facts that I'm sure I learned in history class at some point, but as I've aged, I had forgotten. One of the most interesting thing I learned was that the Star Spangled Banner has more than one verse. But part of the last verse really made me think. It is... Then conquer we must, when our cause. it is just, And this be our motto: "In God is our trust" And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave! For whatever reason, the most important line in the entire song is never sang. It is a profound statement that puts our minds at ease, removes our worries, shoulders our burdens, guides our footsteps: In God is our trust. How many people would have a better life and live in a better world if they just placed their trust in God. It is still a battle that we are fighting today, 195 years after Frances Scott Key wrote those words. They have taken prayer from the schools, they are fighting to remove In God We Trust from government buildings and currency. Many people do not know that In God We Trust was not even printed on paper currency until 1956, though it was on certain coins in the late 1800's and early 1900's. In 1776 Thomas Paine wrote, "These are the times that try men's souls." That is as applicable today as it was then. If we as a nation spent more time on our knees placing our trust in the very God that helped us form this nation, you have to wonder what a different place the world would be. So each time you see the dawn's early light, give praise to the one that created it and remember to always place your trust in Him.
 

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