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.


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.


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?


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


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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.