Thursday, November 22, 2012

{Thirty Days of Thanks~2012; Day 22}

Day 22 | Thanksgiving Day

This Thanksgiving was destined to be different, but I had no idea when I woke up this morning how different it would be. Caitlin and Carson were going to be with Carson's family in Rocky Mount, so it was just going to be Josh and Hannah with me at home. So, we accepted an invitation to the Guys' home and planned to join them today. I baked pies yesterday in preparation for the big day.

Little did I know that Joshua would wake up with a stomach virus. This meant Joshua and I would be staying home. I realized as Hannah drove away to celebrate in Rocky Mount with our new extended family, that I have NEVER missed Thanksgiving! We've always been at family's home or our own, so if someone is sick, you just put them in a bedroom and check on them, but you still GO and enjoy the family time.

It was a quiet, reflective day---not a bad way to celebrate Thanksgiving---I really had some time to thank the Lord for our beautiful life---it's not perfect, but it IS beautiful. We are so blessed to be able to share our lives with sweet family and good friends. I am not feeling great myself, so this has taken me MUCH longer than it should have. I will close now---but just know that I count  you among those many blessings in my life. Thank you for loving me and my family and walking through life with us.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

{Thirty Days of Thanks~2012; Day 21}

Day 21 |time with the kids~

I was so thankful today to have some time to hang out with Hannah and Joshua. I baked quite a bit of the day, so Hannah and Joshua had a Doctor Who-fest in the den---with fish sticks and custard....I think you have to be a Whovian to get that.....I'm just figuring this out, but yes, they dipped their fish sticks in the custard......ummmm, no.

When I finally finished making my pies, I went out and picked up Brave from Redbox and a pizza from Amante pizza. It's right up the street from us and one of our favorite places to get pizza. Anyway, sometimes it's just nice to do nothing together--I'm so grateful for some down time with my kids!

We are spending the day with Carson's family tomorrow in Rocky Mount. I'm grateful for the opportunity to join them for this special day of Thanksgiving. I'll load some pictures tomorrow, I hope!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

{Thirty Days of Thanks~2012; Day 20}

                                                                          photo credit

Day 20 | God's Provision

I ran into Harris Teeter today for a few things I'll need to let the bake-fest begin tomorrow in preparation for Thursday. Thursday---Thanksgiving Day. A day that most of us will have much more than we could ever need---and we'll likely throw part of it out before we can eat it. As I was there, I kept passing a mom and her two preschool children. As I went from aisle to aisle walking by them, I couldn't help but overhear her telling the children, "no, you can't have this, no you can't have that." Now, I've done the same things with my toddler children---toddlers and grocery stores can be a mother's worst nightmare! But I couldn't help but wonder if they "couldn't" have these things because she just couldn't afford it.  I pondered this as I shopped the rest of the store and wondered what she ended up buying.

I left the store with 8 grocery bags and a more grateful heart. Even as my family has walked through various changes in the past 18 months, we have always had far more than we've ever needed. I don't have to worry if I can feed my family. I don't have to decide between paying a bill and buying groceries.  I know that many Americans live this struggle each and every month. I am SO BLESSED to NOT have to worry about this. I could talk about this for a long time---but I think we all know how blessed we are---sometimes we just forget to say it out loud---and acknowledge the ONE who gives us all that we have. So, I'm saying it---Thank you Father, Holy God, for your gracious provision in my life. Thank you for sustaining me and giving me all I need and much, much more. May I NEVER take for granted your good gifts.

Monday, November 19, 2012

{Thirty Days of Thanks~2012; Day 19}


This picture is about six months old---I love it though. Today I was SO thrilled to have all of my "babies" in my house at the same time! That doesn't happen often enough for me (yes, I'm spoiled---it DOES happen more often than in some families, but I'd love it every week if I could work that out!) One of the things I love about having them all in the house is that they are STILL just siblings--even with the age differences...they pick at each other, laugh hysterically at each other, constantly tell me, "I was NEVER allowed to do that"---you parents know what I'm talking about. There's a lot of eye rolling and sighing----and I just LOVE it! I love to just observe them together---it's so funny!

I do love that siblings can say things to each other that the child would NEVER hear from their parents. I love that my children (and Carson when he's here) get along and for the most part, really enjoy being together. This is what I love about the holidays---and I'm so grateful for a few days with them in my home!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

{Thirty Days of Thanks~2012; Day 18}

 Day 18 | Serving at Church

I woke up this morning and realized that I hadn't posted yesterday....I let it go! Yea for me! I stayed up super late trying to get some more Advent gifts wrapped and ready for all my people.....my children & grandchild & nephews....yeah, that's a lot of wrapping! I really enjoy it---but it's nearly 170 little packages to get together by December 1st!!! That's a lot! Anyway, I was busy doing that and didn't get my post up.

Today, I went to church where I have the privilege of serving in a one year old Sunday School class. We have the "oldest ones"---many of them have turned two in the past quarter or are about to. What a fun age! Our class is really happy most of the time---which is so nice. There are a few classes on the hall that have so many sad babies as I walk by each Sunday...I'm so grateful ours are a little more comfortable. We have a lot of consistency with the workers and I know that helps children this age.

As I was serving today I was reminded of all the years I was dropping off babies and preschoolers for someone to keep so I could just sit through the worship service in peace! Do you remember those days? It was an hour or two of adult interaction and I was SO grateful to have it! The children are so precious! I enjoy spending time with them and the people I work with each Sunday. Let's just face it---babies make you smile. They are always good for a hug or a giggle. I wanted to take a picture of my class, but I don't have permission to use their faces on my blog, so I decided I wouldn't.

Why am I teaching in the Preschool area? If any of you know me, you know that I really LOVE working with older children. How did I end up in a "ones" class? I needed a job that didn't require any preparation each week---I just don't have time during the school year. I knew I'd leave it until the last minute and that wouldn't serve the students best. I knew I needed to get back into a Sunday School class, but I really wasn't ready for an adult class---so I decided to serve some parents of preschoolers. I'm grateful the Lord showed me the need and I was able to say yes. I don't know if I'll serve in here forever---but it's been a nice transition for me.

Joshua and Hannah are here with me for the week and I'm really looking forward to some sweet time with them. They are downstairs watching a Doctor Who episode now---I'm not watching because I'm only in Season 3 and that would be WRONG to watch something from a later season until I'm caught up....at least according to Hannah Nelson. This is her latest obsession and I don't want to upset the rules of the obsession.

So, today I'm grateful for an opportunity to serve the young families of Providence Baptist Church. AND I'm grateful to begin a week at home with my kiddos! I hope you are able to gather with your family this week and enjoy each other. Have a great week!

Friday, November 16, 2012

{Thirty Days of Thanks~2012; Day 16}

Day 16 | Prayer warriors

I'm so grateful for godly women in my life who support me. There's a group of women in my life who are my prayer warriors--and I am theirs. We text or email each other regularly with prayer requests----and we KNOW that these requests will constantly be lifted to our loving Heavenly Father. What a treasure it is to have someone to stand in the gap for me. I have texted these women in all sorts of situations---from the craziest of places to say---PRAY FOR ME----NOTHING else could knit our hearts together like prayer does. I am SO grateful for them~

Thursday, November 15, 2012

{Thirty Days of Thanks~2012; Day 15}

Day 15 | Warmth

Today I'm so grateful for my warm home. For my gloves for the drive home. For my umbrella and good shoes. Things I take for granted everyday.

Joshua and a friend play football most days after school while I and the friend's mom finish up our work at school. Today they went outside in that cold rain and played football for an hour and 15 minutes. Then, they came in to warm up and went out again for about 20 minutes more. I began to think that they could go out and get so cold (which I thought was crazy---but I'm not the mom who says, "it's too cold to play outside") because they had a warm place to come to when they got too miserable!

As I walked into my house after work---the programmed thermostat had done its job and my house was toasty warm. I had to pause and say thank you to a gracious God who is the giver of all gifts. Joshua was able to go upstairs and take a long, hot shower. I was able to prepare a hot meal for us and we were comfortable in spite of the wet, cold conditions right outside our windows.

I don't want to take these gifts for granted---praying I'll remember to be thankful throughout this cold winter.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

{Thirty Days of Thanks~2012; Day 14}

Day 14 | Choir---best hour of the work week!

Today is Wednesday.....I'm sorry---just as I typed that, all I could hear in my head was that children's song, "Today is Monday, today is Monday. Monday, string beans, all you hungry children, come and eat it up. Today is Tuesday, today is Tuesday. Tuesday, spaghetti, Monday string beans, all you hungry children, come and eat it up. Today is Wedn......"--you get the picture!? Do you know that song?

But, I digress......or do I? As I was saying, before I interrupted myself (which happens all the time as those of you who really KNOW me, know!), today is Wednesday. On this day, I have my favorite hour of my entire work week......EVERY. WEEK. Wednesday afternoon I have choir until 4:00pm. My choir is an auditioned group of 3rd through 6th graders at Trinity Academy of Raleigh. I LOVE this group of students! It's not just these particular students I love, but getting to work with a group of motivated students and just SING GOOD MUSIC!! The number has varied throughout the years--with 14 in our first year, 54 students now and various numbers in between. 54 students crammed into my classroom! We work HARD!! I could write posts and posts about this group---about these individual children. You see all sorts of personalities in a group like this and I love watching them work together throughout the year toward common goals. I could write about the boys in my group---particularly the third grade boys who are just there to go to Busch Gardens (we go to a competition there every year) and when they realize they have to put up with this crazy, picky, pushy lady for all those weeks, they suddenly decide that MAYBE Busch Gardens isn't so great after all!! I could talk about how they sing and they let me push them and push them and they KEEP giving me more. I love to watch my students go from the front row in third grade and move back a row every year. They finally make it to the coveted back row and they look at each other and roll their eyes, but they still sing their hearts out! I could tell you how Carol Riley, a sweet friend and grandmother to one of my choir members sacrifices her time each week to come and play for us. We learn SO MUCH MORE with her as a partner and I am SO blessed to have her.

This sweet/crazy/ornery group of children make me smile. I laugh hysterically while I'm with them. I leave there totally wiped out and full of energy at the same time. They meet a need in me---I'm not even sure what it is exactly, but why else would I spend the HOURS I spend on top of my 7 classes a day to teach them? It's not required---I just love it. I love them. They remind me why I went into teaching in the first place. I love children. I love music---in THAT order. I want my students to have fun with music and learn to love it, too.

Today is Wednesday---I had choir today---and I am grateful for each little face and voice in that group. I am blessed~

Monday, November 12, 2012

{Thirty Days of Thanks~2012; Day 12}

My thankful heart is seeing that it's November 12th and freaking out a bit! I have a major production in a month and I feel SO FAR behind! I think I probably feel this way every year at this time--but it seems "new" to me every year.

Today I'm grateful for a few little things---nothings "major" or life changing to anyone---but I'm still grateful for them. I am thankful at this point in the holiday season that I can look again to the past and KNOW that "it" will all get done and  work out just fine. "IT" is all of the stuff that has to happen between now and the program date---and just the knowledge that I've done it numerous times before is a comfort to me. So, my heart can rest knowing that the All-Sufficient One has this more than handled.

I'm also thankful tonight for some extra time with Joshua to play a game. He didn't have too much homework, so after dinner and clean up we were able to sit and play Yahtzee of all things. I'm not sure when I last played it---but it was found in the "great clean-out of 2012"---and we played it tonight. There is something to be said about no screen time---it forces us to be together in a more engaging environment than just watching a movie together---we should play more games....real conversations happen over games---not so much over a movie. Now, don't hear me  and think I'm bashing the movies---because we Nelson's LOVE to watch some movies---but it was a refreshing flash back to when the screen didn't consume children---or adults. Sadly, I think those days may be gone forever. We do have screens everywhere---we are forced to use them for work, we have them on our laps, in our bedrooms, in our pockets and purses. I'm grateful today for this pause in the norm---this quiet game---well, if you've ever played Yahtzee, you know it's not a quiet game---that dice cup is the most annoying thing in the world......but, you know what I mean!

Enjoy your week---and take a moment away from the screen.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

{Thirty Days of Thanks~2012; Day 11}

Day 11 | Purging is good!!

I began cleaning out my attic today---I say "began" because there is still plenty to do, but I have gotten SO much done and it feels great. Now the challenge will be to get it all out of my house by next Saturday---that's the cut off date for me! Everything is in Hannah's room or in the dining room. If I've been through it and it's leaving my house, it's in the dining room, if I still need to dig through the box, it's in Hannah's room----I'm sure she'd be thrilled to know this!

I went through YEARS of things today---I opened every box and dug through it---poured over some of it---cried a little, laughed a lot, let go of a bunch of stuff we just don't need anymore. I'm not sure WHY I kept most of it, but it's time to send it to new owners----or the dump----quite a bit will end up there!

I'm grateful today for several things---that I'm healthy enough to work a long day----much of it spent hunched over in the attic or sliding under beams. I'm thankful to be reminded of many sweet times in my past. I think when you go through change, sometimes you get stuck in the change and you can't remember what the past was like---that it was good....not perfect, but good.  With that said, I'm grateful that I'm a saver---that I have scads of things to remember the beautiful. Sometimes you need something to look at and hold on to in order to remember the truth of the past---good or bad. This was a gift to me today.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

{Thirty Days of Thanks~2012; Day 10}

Day 10 | Seasoned parenting...

Today I'm grateful I've parented for a while now. I will not give details---to avoid embarrassment to the child---BUT, this process is easier the third time around. Granted, doing it alone has its challenges, but my years as a mom and likely my years in the classroom help me be a better parent. I wish I had had this wisdom with my girls! (They probably do, too!!)

I couldn't help but think of this verse today as I had to dole out some discipline.
    Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?
(Romans 2:4 ESV)
God's kindness is meant to lead you---ME---to repentance. If he is our Heavenly Father and therefore, our parenting example in many ways, shouldn't I lead like HE does?  I don't know about you, but when I'm in the middle of disciplining, my first thought isn't "kindness"--or forbearance or patience, for that matter. As the benevolent dictator of this home, too often I rule with a tone that isn't kind---BUT, I will tell you, the kindness comes out much more often that it used to. I think the tricky parenting years may still be in front of me as I "parent" grown children (whatever THAT means---still learning there!) and I cope with a teenaged boy----ewwwwwww! I'm thankful today that my Heavenly Father is still parenting me along the way---teaching me to be a better teacher to my son. And I'm SO thankful for some experience that make the journey a little easier--He knew I'd need that about this point in my life, too!

Friday, November 9, 2012

{Thirty Days of Thanks~2012; Day 9}

Day 9 | Baby #2 On the Way!

Today I'm so thankful to have another baby on the way in my little family! What fun for us to get to celebrate with Caitlin and Carson---such a gift! She is due February 18th! We will have a lovely spring around here!! They aren't finding out what sex the baby is ahead of time, so we'll have a GREAT surprise at the hospital!

And, btw, isn't she beautiful?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

{Thirty Days of Thanks~2012; Day 8}

Day 8 | My colleagues

I'm so thankful today for my sweet colleagues at work. I'm blessed to work with some lovely, hard working, kind, hard working, funny, hard working, gracious, did I mention hard working?  women! Joshua woke up sick today---nothing too serious, but I could tell as soon as I entered his room that he was sick and wouldn't be going to school today.

I always feel awful when I need to miss school because sometimes they don't get a substitute for me....which means these amazing---hard working----women will have not one minute to breathe during the day if they don't have music. This leaves me torn---my son is my priority, but these women are my friends and we DO work together toward a beautiful goal.  Joshua was going back to sleep, so I decided I'd try to rearrange my schedule/combine some classes and see if I could just come home early. Every person I asked had the attitude, "What can I do to serve you? It was so beautiful. What a gift to me. I was able to rearrange everything and leave by 11AM----WOW---that was almost miraculous! These ladies are amazing! They are flexible, kind, generous, professional educators and I'm so glad I get to walk beside them.

Thank you ladies for blessing me today~

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

{Thirty Days of Thanks~2012; Day 7}

If your determination is fixed, I do not counsel you to despair. Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance.
Samuel Johnson


Day 7 | Perseverance--
Last year this crazy kid received an award at school for his diligence. He IS a hard worker. He is a deliberate worker who pretends not to care about the results, but he does. I am continually learning from him---let's face it, I'm back in school now!!! We study together for everything! I'm hoping to learn math this time around---no, really, starting over and LEARNING MATH!

Joshua's perseverance is a beautiful lesson to me. The child is only in the 6th grade and he works harder than I ever worked in High School. Now, the work isn't necessarily as hard as it was at that time in my life, (or as it will be for him later), but the time commitment is definitely as much, if not more than it ever was for me. 

I am a hard worker---but I'm not sure I truly "labor" over my work like he does---I'm learning from him to KEEP AT IT. Even if the task seems impossible--it's always better to have tried and fail than never to have tried at all---right?

I'm so thankful for a reminder right here in my home to persevere---in ALL things, persevere. One of the verses I pray for Joshua is below---tonight as we were getting through the homework, I began to think of this and hoped and prayed that I, too would persevere---that I, too would be an example to HIM of perseverance. This was a humbling moment as I realized how often I have failed to do this. I'm thankful for these moments of truth in my life (and also that they can often be private and not in a humiliating way---which is also a possibility! ;D ) So, today, I'm thankful for my son---and his  example to me of perseverance---even when he doesn't know he is an example. I'm thankful for this hope---that "does not put us to shame because of God's love"---that is powerful knowledge! I hope you are thankful today for something---for many things!

    Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
   
(Romans 5:1-5 ESV)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

{Thirty Days of Thanks~2012; Day 6}

Day 6 | Reality check

So, I've already talked about voting on Day 2---and I was thankful for that. Today I'm thankful that it really doesn't matter who wins---I KNOW, I KNOW----some of you just left. But listen---I am thankful today that I live in a great republic-that I get to help choose my leaders (I'd help more if I lived in Ohio, apparently---but still.) Either way, I am so tired of 'American Christians' thinking that a "party" or a "man" will save us.

There is a person in my life who wants to help me---like, he (with his family) does a lot to serve me. The other day, I had asked him the name of a person to help fix my lawn mower and he wanted to pay for the fix----I just needed the name---this was a texted conversation, so I finally said, "Jesus is my Savior---not YOU!!" Would I love for him to pay for my fix?---Well, YEAH, but it's not necessary---and I know that he can use that money to help someone else who has a great need right now. That is the way he works---he gives. I'd like to say that to those who are mourning now because it looks like they are close to calling this election ---and not for the "American Christians' " candidate. I'd like to see us lift high the name of Christ as much as we have lifted high the name of "put favorite candidate here". Do we REALLY believe that one person holds that much sway over a holy God? UGH----it just makes me sad.

Today I'm thankful that I DO trust in this holy God; that I know He sees all and knows all and he can handle anything that may be done here.  I'd like to see a more civil approach to this process----among believers!!! Isn't that the LEAST that we can do as a "chosen generation, a Royal priesthood, a holy nation"? YES--- I could ramble on this topic for a long time, but I'm sleepy and my pillow is calling my name. I thankful tonight for Jesus. That He is the creator and He created all those in charge and we can trust Him. Goodnight---life will still go on tomorrow---no matter who wins!

Monday, November 5, 2012

{Thirty Days of Thanks~2012; Day 5}

Day 5 | ...give thanks in all circumstances....

I teach music at a private school here in Raleigh. One of the things I do each month is expose my students to hymns of our faith that have often been forgotten. Now, this post is not going to be a diatribe on hymns or choruses or anything like that---BUT, it's context---SO, moving on....I was introducing our November hymn today. We are learning "Now Thank We All Our God" by Martin Rinkart (1586-1649). I was telling them about Rinkart's life and his inspiration for writing this hymn. He was the German pastor of a church in Eilenburg during the Thirty Years War. So many within the walls of the city were killed or they died because of famine or the plague. He was finally the only pastor left and conducted up to 50 funeral services a day. I can only imagine that he was exhausted and depressed during these days. Yet, when the warring subsided, he wrote this hymn:
Now thank we all our God
With hearts and hands and voices;
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom this world rejoices.
Who, from our mother's arms,
Hath led us on our way,
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours today.
 He wrote a song of thanksgiving after living this insane life he was living. As I spoke to my students about this hymn, I couldn't help but think of 1 Thessalonians  5:18 that teaches us to "give thanks in all circumstances"...and not just that, but "for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." I was careful to say to my students that it doesn't say "give thanks FOR all circumstances, but give thanks IN all circumstances."WOW----this is a humbling piece of scripture.

I recently shared with a dear friend that I have just come to the place where I can truly say I am thankful for my circumstances. They have changed me. I am not the same person I was before I walked through this life---and I hope to keep growing and changing and accepting my circumstances. So, for Day 5---I am grateful for how a loving Heavenly Father uses his word and my own life to mold me into the person he sees in me. And I am thankful for my circumstances. This is a gift!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

{Thirty Days of Thanks~2012; Day 4}

Day 4 | Iron Sharpening Iron...or smacking someone upside the head.....

I have mulled this over all day---I truly have so much to be thankful for and I feel like I say the same things every year! HA! BUT, this is a little different--so stay with me!  Today I was with some friends and everything that was said was so negative---I was shocked at my reaction---I just felt SO SAD when I walked away. Sad because I think people just don't realize how that negativity/being judgemental/having an arrogant attitude can CHANGE THEM into someone they don't want to become. I texted a friend and told her that if I EVER become that way, she has to promise to tell me. Her response was "I'll smack you upside the head"....and I think she will. It made me think of this commercial that I've seen lately--it's something like this one from the Super Bowl a few years ago. I have never seen an episode of this show, I just thought of this when my friend threatened to smack me!


 So, today I am thankful for friends who will DO WHATEVER IT TAKES to point me to Christ---even if they have to "smack me upside the head" to do it...grateful!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

{Thirty Days of Thanks~2012; Day 3)


I'm grateful today for a Saturday with nothing on my calendar. Oh, I have SOOOOO much planned---but nothing has a timeline. Nothing HAS to be done today---oh, other than the "normal" Saturday activities---the lawn, the grocery shopping, the "cleaning of the house"--whatever that means, oh, and the watching of the BAMA vs. LSU game---ROLL TIDE! These are the things I do every weekend, so they aren't scheduled...they are just understood!

I love seeing my Google Calendar on a Saturday with the words "you have no scheduled events today". I WISH it meant I had no work---but it means the day is MINE! I can arrange my "events/work" in a way that pleases me. Joshua recently told me that he wanted to own his own business like the dad of a good friend of his, "because he can do the things he wants to do....and he has a TV in his office". YES, we all know that everyone who owns their own business just sits around all day watching TV and running from soccer game to soccer game. What I quickly told him was that this man likely works ALL THE TIME---morning, noon, night, middle of the night sometimes, because his work is always with him---not "at the office". BUT, hey, when you're 11 and you see this dad down in his office with a TV in it--you are likely thinking, "MANCAVE"---and that seems pretty awesome.

What is it about our lives that makes our TIME so valuable to us? Why do we so value time alone, or at least AWAY from the "normal" routine. I dare say it's because we are SO over scheduled in our society that we do not have adequate time for rest, for quiet thought. Even in our educational system there is RARELY time to "ponder"---we just push from one subject to the next, stuffing more and more into those thirsty brains---no wonder children are stressed out these days---we all are. BUT, I digress----sort of----TODAY, I'm grateful for some unstructured time. I had best get off the computer and start blowing leaves. I'm not too excited about that----but, at least I get to decide when I'll do it.

Friday, November 2, 2012

{Thirty Days of Thanks~2012; Day 2}

Day Two | The Vote

Today I am so thankful for the right to vote. Honestly, I am always amazed that I get to take part in this crazy process. My whole family (birth family) is pretty crazy about politics---my parents have always been actively involved in the process. One of my sisters worked on Capitol Hill for years and still lives in Northern Virginia---which means you ARE involved whether you want to be or not. My other sister teaches American History and is a political junky---yep, she is. And then there is Kathleen---frankly, I'd just rather us find out the day before the election who is running and make a decision based on their platform and be done with it.....I think only the people in the news business and those near the Beltway are into the three year election process....BUT, I would NEVER think of NOT voting! SO, today, I did my civic duty---more than that, I was PRIVILEGED to get out there and vote. It was crowded---I had to park on Ray Road and walk to Lake Lynn center, waited about 45 minutes just to get in the door, walked in with my voter guide and cast my ballot. It is done. I was giddy as I grabbed that sticker and wore it all day---I may just wear it tomorrow! I think it's amazing that we get to vote---I LOVE the peaceful transfer of power---as I've grown older, I've watched as Presidents leave their home, shake hands with "the new guy", get on the helicopter and fly away. There is no rioting, no one storming the gates in protest---it's just the way it is.  I'm not crazy about everything in America---I'm not arrogant enough to believe that my country is any more "special" to God than another---but I AM grateful that I have this voice---It's a gift.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

{Thirty Days of Thanks~2012; Day 1}

Hello blog---Oh, how I've missed you. I wish I had more time for you. You are dusty and neglected, but I am going to use you this month anyway.

I'm embarking on my Thirty Days of Thanks again this year. Once again, I find myself in the place of sincere thanks in all areas of my life. I think I am a changed woman from the woman who wrote last year, and I was last year from the year before. I know it is the goal in Christ to work out my salvation. I have SO much more to "work out"---but I am getting better at seeing the beauty in every day. At seeing things through the lens of Someone Else. There are plenty of areas of my life that I am not handling with grace, but I do feel like the Lord has allowed me to see beauty even in the ugliest of days...for this I am grateful.
NO, that's not what I'm thankful for today---today I am thankful for old friends.

Day One | Friends | The Meltons

Can I say "old friends"? Oh yes, it's my blog---I can say whatever I want!!!---you know what I mean. Friends from long ago. I must tell you, I have had the unique privilege to live in  6 cities in my adult life and I have DEAR, SWEET friends from each place. These are the friends you don't keep up with on a regular basis, but when you do, it's so natural and easy---just like it was when you were together many years ago. Just this week, I had the opportunity to visit with these friends-Doug and Lana Melton.

 I lived next door to the Melton's when I first had Caitlin. Doug and David were on staff together and we spent HOURS together sharing meals, watching movies, hanging out. I learned how to be a good mom by watching Lana parent her (then) two boys. She was such a great, easy-going mom and she helped me develop into a fairly confident mama. We moved away and our families grew and now our children are  growing up. They are marrying  and having babies! We rarely see each other anymore---it has been too long. Doug is a pastor and Lana works for Oklahoma Baptist University. It's hard for them to get away, but Doug came to speak in Chapel at Southeastern Seminary this week and we were able to spend two evenings together. It was such a joy to catch up--for Doug to have some boy-time with my boy and for them to meet this family.


They hadn't met Carson or Eve and Lana just kept saying how much she felt like she was looking at Caitlin all those years ago each time she looked at Eve---

I am so grateful for the chance to catch up and SEE these dear friends. Face to face---people who love unconditionally, who love my children because they love me and I feel the same way about them. These are once in a lifetime friends for some---I am so blessed to have been given many precious friends like the Meltons in my life---none share the same history with my family that these friends do---and that makes them special. But I am TRULY grateful for "old"---lifelong friends. I KNOW this is a gift from a gracious Heavenly Father--And I have to leave you with this last picture---here's Doug's "Mother" picture from Dirty, Rotten Scoundrels---I think you had to be there!




Friday, June 8, 2012

{View}


Here's another post from 31 Things---I've changed a few names in here to protect the innocent---or, at least the anonymity of those who are involved. I know they didn't do this for any glory! 


 View
This view is from my kitchen window---Saturday was TAR graduation, which I’m required to attend. I got home around 11:30 and found some of my dearest friend's husbands and their teenage boys doing work in my back yard. There were cars parked all around my house and a friend's huge work truck in front of my house loaded down with yard debris. When I walked up in my dress clothes, I was saw seven men and four teenage boys all working SO HARD on a very hot Saturday afternoon. I was met by one of the men who said, “Hey, are you attached to this tree? Because we’d like to take it down”----"Nope---not attached", I said. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a man this happy before!! He got to use his chainsaw---whooohoooo! So, he cut and two others pushed at the appropriate time and down it went. They had cleaned up the whole back yard, tons of ivy was removed, downed trees were cut up and tossed, all sorts of saplings and weeds were removed. It looks SO MUCH NICER!! What a blessing to me---I couldn’t have accomplished this if I worked every weekend in the summer.

“View” is what I’m supposed to write about---the physical view is described above, but my view was enlightened in many ways---THESE MEN---took hours out of their Saturday. Hours from their families and their own work that needed to be done and gave it to me. Routinely, since my life was turned upside down, God has blessed me in unexpected, practical ways. This is one of those ways---the Body of Christ, working through these men and boys, representing four different churches in our area, came and worked in my yard. It was amazing. The Lord just encouraged my heart so much. Thank you Father, for always providing for me---even if it isn’t money, you provide for my every need and I am truly grateful.

So, my view----from my window and beyond, I see grace and love. And that’s a beautiful thing.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

{Read}

So, the last time I posted, I told you how I've been in this online class. It's really a scrapbooking class about ME! ;D It's a class that sends me a prompt everyday and I'm supposed to write about the prompt---however I want to. Then, I'm supposed to make it into a scrapbook. SO, I had to put several of these prompts on hold for awhile with school coming to a close, but I'm almost caught up. So, for the next few days, I'm going to just post to my blog several of the pieces I've written. Most of them are done in a day---I don't really worry about a lot of edits----again---the title of the blog.....Nelson RAMBLINGS----editing not required!


Day 3~Read
 Hmmmmm, read.  books. libraries. bookstores. I have a schizophrenic relationship with books. I was never a reader growing up. I think because I didn’t see it modeled as a child. I don’t remember my mom reading to me, although I’m sure she did. I don’t remember being encouraged to read except for school. Now, I’m positive I could have forgotten it, but I have no memories of my parents encouraging me to read. They read---but I didn’t really see much of it. From the time my dad walked in the door in the evening until he went to bed---and even after that when the TV was in their bedroom, the television was on. It was the nightly news, then the sitcoms or dramas…move to bedroom, the 10:00 news and then Johnny Carson. I know my mom would read during the day when I was at school, but, I was at school---I didn’t see it. I probably didn’t show much of an interest in reading, so I wasn’t encouraged to do it.  Of course, it’s not really my parents’ fault—I could have been a reader, I just wasn’t.

After I went to college, my friends would sit around and talk about all the books they had read, I felt so insecure—and frankly, stupid. Why hadn’t I read that book in my literature class? Why hadn’t MY parents encouraged me to read the classics? How had I missed the Narnia series, Tolkien’s trilogy or Jane Austen’s beautiful stories? It fostered an insecurity I already had about my own intelligence and abilities intellectually. BUT, of course, I didn’t pick those books up during my down times at college---and I could have! I just wasn’t really that interested in reading. I think I hadn’t discovered how beautiful it was to escape into a new reality with a character in a story---to find an uncommon friendship with one of the Bennett sisters, or live at Hogwarts with Harry, Ron and Hermione.

Because of these insecurities I was determined that my children would be surrounded by books, would look forward to reading time---at ALL times of the day. I was determined that they would discover this love of a fantasy world early on so it would whet their appetite for the great adventures to be discovered in books throughout their lives. So, we began the Narnia series while we were still in Tulsa—the girls were four and six. They LOVED them! I wish I could take credit for my daughters’ love of books. Both of them are voracious readers---they read early and read much. Joshua is still learning to love it. I still read aloud to him most nights. We are currently in the Hunger Games Series. Last year I read the entire Harry Potter series to him…well, actually, after the 4th book I checked out the audio books from the library!

Just as the Harry Potter series has captured so many children’s imaginations, it captured mine as well. I think I was sort of a child “in the reading world” when it came out. I hadn’t developed as I should as a reader. I credit J.K. Rowling with sparking my interest in reading again.  I tore through the books as soon as I could get my hands on them---waiting in line at the midnight release for each subsequent book.  I loved these books, but still hadn’t developed an appreciation for or love of the classics.

I remember a distinct moment in 2004 when Hannah was in 6th grade. We were in the car alone and she was telling me about her latest Humanities discussion---a rare peek into her school day! She began comparing Jane Austen to Charles Dickens and giving me all sorts of similarities and differences. (I was blown away and as soon as I got home I wrote her teacher, Mrs. Joni Bolin to thank her for her love of literature that had excited my girl to read the classics.) Hannah then began to speak of her passion for Pride and Prejudice and what great characters Austen created. I went out, picked up a copy and begin to read it. I fell in love with the story, with Mr. Bennett, with how vividly she created Mrs. Bennett-- with how much you can’t stand her, but you LOVE that you KNOW her! And, OF COURSE, who couldn’t love Mr. Darcy?  I think I was changed. I would love to say that I have been a crazy reader of the classics and new books ever since---I haven’t, but I do read more than I used to. Summer is my reading time---I just find that when I don’t have much time to read, I don’t read. A chapter a night just frustrates me. I’d rather have several hours to really get into a story. Most recently, I bought the Hunger Games trilogy on my Kindle. What a fun read! One Saturday I spent the entire day reading. I hadn't done that in years---it was SO fun!  Joshua began the book, but in the insanity of the end of the year he couldn’t finish it, so I began reading it aloud. I hope reading will capture his imagination one day soon. I am learning that it’s a beautiful escape!

I said at the beginning that I had a schizophrenic relationship with reading—I think it’s like this: When I’m reading I LOVE reading; but when I’m not, I don’t want to. It’s a bit of a chore for me to start a book---once I start one, I’ll finish it and LOVE it. Starting is hard for me because I just don’t have a lot of down time. Someday in the future I hope to have more time and I hope I can fill much of it with good reads---

Friday, May 18, 2012

{Thirty One Things~Jewelry}

I am a huge fan of Ali Edwards. I have followed her blog for years, done Week in the Life, December Daily Albums, etc. I haven't ever taken one of her classes though. When I saw her 31 Things class start up, I thought it looked like something I might want to do. It's a project focusing on telling 31 stories. I signed up at Big Picture Classes. (There's still time to sign up if you are interested in telling 31 stories about your life.) Ali sends us a prompt everyday and then we write about it. Now, MAY is the WORST time for me to begin anything new---but, I just decided TO DO IT! It started today. I was totally shocked when I saw the topic---JEWELRY. My immediate thought was, "You've GOT to be kidding me!" But, I thought on it off and on during the day and sat down for a few minutes between school and an evening event I had and wrote the majority of this post. Eventually, I will take these posts and put them into a scrapbook album--but that is NOT going to happen this month---life is too crazy for me to have time for that, so I will post them here and cross my fingers to get them in a book before school starts up again in August.

SO, below is my post on jewelry! I'm heading to Busch Gardens with my students tomorrow for our annual music competition! It's always a fun weekend---but, I doubt I'll have a chance to post anything tomorrow---I'm not going to be uptight about that---this is MY project. I can take 40 days to do it and no one will slap my hand! I hope you enjoy it--thanks for peeking in!


Jewelry~

What? I’m writing about jewelry? I let myself ponder this topic at various times during the day and I found that I probably have more to say about this than anyone would ever care to know! I don’t wear much jewelry. Oh, my---I used to! In the 80’s and 90’s I was an accessory QUEEN!!! I think some of that was because of the times we were living in---but some of it was because life was slower for me during those years. I had time to shop for accessories; I had time to look for just the right pair of earrings; I had money to burn, I guess. Not so much now. Children came along. David went back to school. Private school came along; part-time work came along; soccer and drama and another baby came along and I was just happy to get the basics on. That’s where I live today jewelry-wise. I live in the watch? check!  rings? check!  earrings? check! Necklace? check! LET’S GOOOOO!

My mom has a lot of jewelry---a lot of FINE jewelry. For years my father ALWAYS got her jewelry as gifts. Then, my Junior year in High School we were robbed and he decided he wouldn’t get her jewelry anymore…and he hasn’t much since. She still has LOTS of nice jewelry, but not a lot of recent purchases. If I had a picture of her wedding ring, I’d put it here---there’s a long story to it---I’m not sure I want to write it out here---so, here’s the short story. Mama has a simple band and diamond solitaire that she wore for 35 years. Then, my dad found this REALLY big, dare I say, gawdy ring that looks like gold nuggets and he put a huge diamond in it and she wears it WITH her band and solitaire. So, THREE rings on one finger! It suits her---but, it would take up over half my finger!!

But, back to me! ;D This picture wasn’t staged---this is my jewelry pile---I’ll occasionally pull out a different set of earrings, but this is my 6 out of 7 days a week stash. It consists of two necklaces—one silver, one gold; three sets of earrings-silver, my diamond studs, and my blue topaz ones; three rings---I trade out between the topaz and the pearl ring, and I always wear my wedding ring. The pearl ring belonged to my mom, but she gave it to me not too long ago. The silver earrings and necklace are from my sister, Shannon. Everything else was given to me by David.

So, did you see how I just skimmed right over the wedding ring thing? Yep—I did. Hmmmmm---it had to come up, didn’t it? My wedding ring---yes, I still wear it. Some have asked why. Well, I’m still married. Is it because I’m pining after my long lost husband? No. But why do I still wear it when he’s been gone over 18 months? I don’t know----I’ve thought a lot about this today. Do I wear it because I’m ashamed? Yes, I suppose that’s part of it. I want to protect Joshua---he still hasn’t really discussed this whole separation with anyone and I don’t want curious girls at school to ask me about it and then I have to discuss it with them. Girls ask these questions, you know. But, I think it’s mostly because of this simple truth: I’m married. That’s it. I’m not divorced---I made a covenant and I take it seriously. Will I wear my ring when I’m divorced? No-but some may think, “but your covenant isn’t broken in God’s eyes”---yeah, I don’t know. I do know this---I won’t wear it when my divorce is final. I think I’ll be embarrassed, ashamed, sad, but I also think it will be time by then. I will have to wear something else on that hand when I quit wearing my ring. After nearly 30 years of having something there-ALWAYS-I think I’ll just need something---I wonder what it will be?  I think I’ll feel naked (pronounced “ne-ked”, just so you know) without it.

So---more to say about jewelry than I ever dreamed…and I could ramble on…..

Saturday, April 7, 2012

{Eve is ONE}

I'm so excited to share this post! My precious grand baby, Eve had her first birthday on February 28th and I had the sweet privilege to host her first birthday party!! I truly just got my house ready, made some brownies and that was it. Caitlin and her friends did everything else! Caitlin threw a party that Pinterest followers would genuinely love! It was beautiful---go get a cup of something and have a seat...this is going to be a long post!!

Below are some of the decorations Caitlin put together for the party~

The "sweet" area in the dining room~

 Cupcakes from Gigi's

 LOVE these straws

 She put blood oranges, lemons and limes in the water and it turned this beautiful pink color---so pretty!

 Parker being domestic---I LOVE this picture!

 None of the pictures of Eve's banner turned out very good----possibly the insanely green background? I dunno~
(but I did make that banner myself with my $20 sewing machine---so happy!)

 The "other food" table in the kitchen

 Caitlin hung these pictures of Eve behind the table---I loved this!

 Taylor made these beautiful food "place cards" for everything--her handwriting looks like a font---just a little jealous!

 Daisy (aka Dawn Guy) did the flower arrangement---it's hard to see in this picture, but the flowers are surrounded by pink mini marshmallows---such a great idea!

Sarah displayed the fruit like this---WHAT? SO pretty!

OK, I know, go get a refill---here comes the birthday girl! There were several cameras going that day, and after all the pictures were in my computer, I had over 60 pictures of Eve eating her cupcake---yes, a little over the top, but I had some good ones to choose from!
This is her reaction to our singing the birthday song to her---so sweet!

  
Daddy holding the cupcake/candle---look at that face--

Let the eating commence!











Uncle Josh filmed the whole thing on my camera---I love technology....
can you sing along? Anyone?

OK---I have officially become the obnoxious grandmother---sorry...but thanks for looking!

Monday, March 26, 2012

{God's Refining Fire}

I had a beautiful moment of conviction tonight---now we don't often think of conviction as beautiful, but perhaps we should. I'll try to be brief---for two reasons: 1. I don't have time to write a blog post tonight and B. I know you don't have time to read a long, rambling post!

SOOOOO, after dinner tonight, Joshua and I were sitting at the table and he was explaining a real frustration he has at recess at school. I say "he has" because it's an ongoing thing---don't worry---no one is bullying him, or leaving him out---what it actually boils down to is he doesn't get his way and it's frustrating. As he sat and rambled on and on (btw, I have NO idea where THAT comes from), I began to realize---"cool, I see a lovely life lesson I can pass along to my boy here"---yeah, that should have been a sign to me that a "lovely life lesson" may be coming my way as well.

We began to play a game he had made up (don't you love it when kids make up a game?)....anyway, the game time allowed me to share my day with him. I had had a frustrating day as well. It wasn't an awful day---just one that really frustrated me and caused me a lot of stress and sadness. The "problem" was really no big deal and you would think that with some of the other issues I have in my life I may be able to just "let go" of the little things---yeah, not so much.

I was struck when listening to Josh that these frustrations in his life were just opportunities to be refined. I shared with him about how gold and other precious metals are refined and that it's the HEAT that takes away the impurities and makes the metal more precious---more valuable---the heat makes that metal into what it was created to be.

As I sat there feeling great about my life lesson so beautifully spoken to my son---I was nailed with my own conviction of sin. Had I dealt this way with my own day? Had I accepted this irritation as God's beautiful refining in my life? Years ago---I mean YEARS ago when I sang more than just children's songs in music class, I sang the beautiful Steve Green song, "The Refiner's Fire". I was playing this mindless game with Joshua and these words began flooding back to my soul--bringing with them conviction and peace. I was truly so upset by my day and one small event that happened that I was letting it consume me. One of the lines in the song is, "He is consuming my soul, refining me, making me whole". I sat there thinking---"hmmmm, if this small thing has consumed me, (and it had) then I can't be "being" consumed by Christ---and his refining fire." Right there I had to confess my own sinfulness----I had to ask this holy God, who sent his son to DIE FOR ME, to forgive my petty, selfishness. Oh, how he must do the eye roll about me sometimes! (OK---I know there's no where in scripture that says that---I just KNOW that's what I'd do.....SO glad the Lord is longsuffering!)

I had to look the words up to the verses---I could remember pieces of them, but not all of them. This text is so beautiful---I love that my gracious Father brought this song to my mind and allowed me to be able to confess my pitiful sin to Him. This is why conviction is beautiful---it opens up a way for us to commune with a Holy God. That is amazing. I found a video on YouTube of this song---I didn't love it---it's just words, but if you'd rather hear it than see the words, Steve Green sounds great---the link is at the bottom of this post. I have a great post of Eve's birthday in the works---and we celebrated my mom's birthday, too! Hopefully I got some good pictures. I love you three who come visit me! ;D Thanks so much~hugs my friends!

The Refiner's Fire

There burns a fire with sacred heat
White hot with holy flame
And all who dare pass through its blaze
Will not emerge the same
Some as bronze, and some as silver
Some as gold, then with great skill
All are hammered by their sufferings
On the anvil of His will
Chorus:
The Refiner's fire
Has now become my souls desire
Purged and cleansed and purified
That the Lord be glorified
He is consuming my soul
Refining me, making me whole
No matter what I may lose
I choose the Refiner's fire

I'm learning now to trust His touch
To crave the fire's embrace
For though my past with sin was etched
His mercies did erase
Each time His purging cleanses deeper
I'm not sure that I'll survive
Yet the strength in growing weaker
Keeps my hungry soul alive

Chorus

Words and music by Jon Mohr and Randall Dennis
 
The Refiner's Fire Video
 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

{Christmas 2011}

Christmas morning was quite fun. We spent the night at my parents on Christmas Eve. Jennifer and I slept out in the den. I was on the love seat and she was in one of the chairs---yeah...we didn't get a lot of sleep. Now, THAT would have been a great picture, but so sorry for you that I didn't get one of those!!

 Joshua had a bit of a theme this Christmas---it was a Wes Welker Christmas. He got this jersey from Aunt Jen and a fathead from my parents--so Wes---or flat Wes as I like to call him, lives in Joshua's room now. Very cool!!

 This is Shannon's husband, Bill. He has a tradition of putting on every article of clothing he receives on Christmas morning---without removing any of them---seriously---it's hysterical. This cracked me up---it's crazy Bill---he's the fun uncle---do you have an uncle like that?

 Hannah had a Tom's Christmas---she received THREE pair of Tom's shoes for Christmas---so we gave away three pair of Tom's as well---I love that about this company.

I was able to get Joshua an XBOX console with Kinect with my American Express points. This was such a blessing---I have had my Amex card for YEARS and have never used my points, so I had a ton of them and was able to get Joshua a Christmas gift I never could have bought him! He was TOTALLY surprised---
The immediate hug---SO sweet---yep, I was bawlin'---
so much fun to give something special!

I have no pictures of our lunch or anything else from that day---we all had a lovely day though---
I HAVE had other things happen since Christmas that I hope to share with you, but this is it for now. Thanks again for visiting!!