Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A True Holiday Spirit

While I was out shopping today, I wound up in line behind an older (but not elderly) couple.  There were two or three people in line ahead of us, and during the wait I couldn't help but overhear part of their conversation.  Now, while I don't consider myself an eavesdropper, my ears did perk up when I heard bits of what they were saying.  After a couple of minutes it became clear to me that they were debating whether or not they had enough money for supper and the gas to get them back home.  They wound up deciding they could only afford the gas back home, and even at that, they might not have enough money to fill the car up enough to get the entire way back.  They both were wearing well-worn clothes and the man looked as if he had suffered a stroke at some point in time.  After reaching their decision, he stayed in line with the few necessities they could afford, and she went off to gather her young grandson and his very pregnant mother.  As I left, they were all sitting in a very small car that looked as if it might not even make it out of the parking lot.  Our time in North Carolina taught me that unless people are out asking for money or food, they may not want you to give them any, so I offered up a quick prayer and went on my way instead.  

"For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat:  I was thirsty and ye gave me drink:  I was a stranger and ye took me in:  Naked, and ye clothed me:  I was sick, and ye visited me:  I was in prison, and ye came to me...Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me [Christ]."  Matthew 25:35-36, 40 KJV

Do I believe in the power of prayer?  Absolutely.  Do I doubt my decision to not try to do more to help this family?  Do I wish I could go back and and make a different choice?  Yes.  And yet, despite my guilt (and if we're really going to be honest here, that's what it is) that opportunity has passed me by.  Does that mean I can't do something now for someone else?  Nope.  As we head into this year's Christmas season, I implore you to consider it's origins.  As beautiful and enchanting as the lights and tinsel and brightly wrapped gifts are, Christ entered this world meekly in order to teach us how to live, how to love, and ultimately, to die for our sins.  He lived and loved with a servant heart, and so should we.  As you sit in your snug homes contemplating what gifts to give this year, I would ask that you take into consideration those who do not have the means to provide the comfort you and I enjoy.  Does your child need all three of those new, expensive toys that they will only play with for a few weeks, or could you get them just one, and in doing so, teach them the valuable lesson of loving others by donating the rest of the money you would have spent?  There are many charities and organizations this time of year asking for your money and compassion.  You don't have to donate to all of them, but please do find one or two you could support.  I know what it's like to have things be a little tight towards the end of the month, and if you're like my family, you do, too.  And yet, the cupboards at my house always have plenty of food, my closet is well-stocked with nice clothes that don't need mending, and my thermostat set at a pleasant temperature.  There are many adults and children alike who cannot say the same.  The face of poverty in this country is changing, and your friends and neighbors may not be as well-off as you think.  So, please, take time to think about the down-trodden, the hungry, the cold, the elderly, the sick, and the unemployed this year.  And during that pause, consider your blessings and how you can use them to bless others this CHRISTmas season.  You may find yourself pleasantly surprised at the surplus you find to share with others and the joy you receive from doing so.

A Month of Thanks: Day 29

It's impossible to read this story to my little one without getting quite teary.  The best way to end this month of thanks is to begin the Advent season remembering why it is and to Whom we are thankful.  Luke 2.  Go read it and remember.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Month of Thanks: Day 28

I love having some green, growing plants in the house in the winter months.  They make it seem more like winter.  My parents have nearly an entire nursery that they move in each year as the weather gets cooler and days become shorter.  My grandmother did as well, so I guess it's only natural for this "moving of the greens" to be a comfort for me.  I think I'm one of those rare people who prefer the cold. I guess you could say I have SAD in the Spring and Summer, for once the cool weather gets here I breathe a sigh of relief...and bring in my plants.  

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fa la la la la!

Thanksgiving break is over, which means Mr. Chadwick is back at school and I'm left at home to my own devices.  Translated, this means on Mondays and Wednesdays I have about 5 hours of free time while Little Man is at school in the morning and taking an afternoon nap.  With no holiday meal to prepare and a dreary day outside, I set about to finish our Christmas decorations.  I wanted to start with a project I've been planning for several weeks.  My in-laws live in the old farmhouse where my father-in-law grew up.  It was full of old windows, and one of the screened windows upstairs was removed to put in an air conditioner.  I requested use of said framed window screen.  They obliged.  I couldn't wait to get my hands on it, but since we hosted Thanksgiving last week, I just didn't have time to begin the project.  I had started collecting the things I'd need for it, however, over the last couple of weeks.  After laying Little Man down for his nap, I dragged my stuff outside to begin cleaning the frame.  It had been in an upstairs window for years with the upstairs going unused for much of that recent time.  The paint was badly chipped and loose, and it had a good bit of dirt on it.  I scraped the loose paint, cut out the screen, and wiped it down with a damp rag.  After I deemed it clean enough to enter my house, I brought it into the den and put 11 tiny cup hooks into it.  From these hooks I hung at varying lengths some of my Mimi Gilliam's vintage Shiny Bright ornaments.  I really wanted to put the frame on our mantle in the den, but the frame is about an inch-and-a-half too tall.  I couldn't find a place in the Great Room where I would like it, so I decided to take down the rolled paper wreath next to the bookcases in the den and hang it there. 

 I really like the rolled paper wreath, so I wanted to make sure it stayed on the wall somewhere.  I hmmmed and hawed over it for a while before finally settling on the space between the couch and the mantle.   However, we have a shelf centered on that wall, and I'd rather stand on my head for an hour than have the decor not be symmetrical.  So, now I need to make another rolled paper wreath to even it out.  

I will probably leave the window frame in place after the Christmas season is over and place something seasonal in it for the rest of the winter, changing and updating it with each passing season.  

At some point, I may decide to put some glass in it and use it for a picture frame.  That is yet to be determined.  I'm sure that in looking at it, you will think it is upside down.  After all, I have the largest "rectangle" on top.  I assure you this is intentional.  I want to cut some greenery and place it across the center beam, so if you have some laying around your yard, feel free to holla and I'll be there in a jiffy to snip snip and bring it home.

Next up, finishing my mantle.  I'm a little overwhelmed and wishy-washy about what to do with it, so it may be a few days before that happens.  

A Month of Thanks: Day 27

Today, I am thankful for friends who have blessed us so much.  Dear church family, we are so thankful you allowed us to serve you.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Month of Thanks: Day 26

This is the first Christmas that Little Man has been able to help decorate.  He absolutely loved picking places on the tree for his plastic, shatter proof ornaments.  I can't wait to see his face as packages begin to be placed underneath. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Month of Thanks: Day 23

I'm not only thankful for but blessed by the story these pictures tell.  Two silly boys who love each other.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Month of Thanks: Day 22

Ah, the canvas bin.  I have several of these in the house.  And baskets.  And boxes.  They are amazing.   Bless the one who invented them.  They keep my house and life organized and clutter free.  And that a happy mama makes.  

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Month of Thanks: Day 21

I'm thankful for the opportunity to have a house full of family this week.  It's a lovely chance for us to all get together to eat, catch up, and reminisce.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Month of Thanks: Day 20

Today, I am thankful for this oddity of nature younger brother of mine.  Sometimes funny, most of the time a friend, and always someone I can call at 6:00 in the morning for that book title I just can't remember, he is the best little brother a girl could ask for.  Unless of course, you're asking my mom who has three little brothers from whom to pick.  Oh, and my child has a major obsession with all photos of "Uncle Cool."  So, Matthew, enjoy this day of thanks for you.  Perhaps this will be the start of your very own national holiday.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Month of Thanks: Day 19

I'm thankful that this pot of tomatoes became several of these:

Jars of delicious pizza sauce.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

When the Cat's Away, the Mice will Play

And by "cat" obviously I mean Blair.  And by "mice will play" I clearly mean redecorate.  At least I didn't rearrange furniture or do anything too drastic.  I just took the wall from this (notice the wall with the window)

to this.

The bird was one of my grandmother's Christmas tree ornaments, and I made the wreaths from branches off of one my forsythias.

I really thought I had actual before pictures of this wall.  Turns out I don't, but I think you can get a pretty good idea from the top photo.  Anyway, there were two paintings on the wall in cheap frames.  I took the paintings out, cut the cardboard leaving a four inch "border" around, and wrapped them in burlap.

I'm not completely finished with the one on the right.  I think it needs a little more "something" to even it out with the one on the left.  See what I mean?

Yeah, me neither in this picture.  I really need to figure out how to take good indoor pictures.  Here's that close-up again of the one on the left.

I love this bird!  The one on the right is completely bare still.  However, I do really like the direction I'm heading with the little change up.  They're the kind of frames I can change up with the seasons and won't feel too bad about getting rid of once I have some really great photos framed and put there.  And the wall painted.  And new curtains.

A Month of Thanks: Day 18

I'm thankful for the opportunity to craft for the Advent Season.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Month of Thanks: Day 16

I'm thankful for a little boy who doesn't mind helping me finish a brownie.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Month of Thanks: Day 15

Today, I am thankful for a little boy who just keeps getting cuter and cuter.  Or, perhaps I should say, goofier and goofier.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Month of Thanks: Day 14

I'm thankful for parents who instilled in me an early love of books and education.  This has provided for me opportunities and experiences that many others never have.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Month of Thanks: Day 13

As petty as it may sound, I am thankful for good hair days.  Even a stay-at-home mom likes to look nice every now and then.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Month of Thanks: Day 12

I'm thankful for a wonderful husband.  He is a great leader with strong faith and an amazing father.

He can also be pretty fun.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Month of Thanks: Day 11

I am thankful for a busy, busy little boy.  This means he is happy and healthy and growing.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Month of Thanks: Day 10

Robert Lee Cook, Sr.  WWI

Robert Lee Cook, Jr. WWII

 Raymond Gilliam  WWII

John Franklin Gilliam, Sr.  Korean War

Every day I'm thankful for the men and women in our military who are selfless enough to serve for our country.  Today, I want to recognize these four men:  my great-grandfather Cook, my grandfather Cook, my great-uncle Raymond, and my Pawpaw (grandfather) Gilliam.  Their sacrifice all those years ago has made it possible for us to live the lifestyles we want with freedom.  (I also have the last three men to thank for my son's inherited love of trucks.)  Thank you, veterans, for your service and sacrifice.