Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Christmas Day

Christmas Day started off with opening stockings while we waited for the monkey bread to bake. We started with the youngest and watched as she opened her stocking and then took turns seeing what everyone got for each other.

After taking a breakfast break, we gathered back in the living room to open presents. We again took turns "playing Santa" and once the gifts were handed out, we'd take turns opening and watching what was opened. The girls were so excited to see what they had received and we had a good time together.

After we had opened presents and spent some time playing with new toys, we took a little break to get dressed and re-gathered at my house for dinner. It was fun to have a change of venue for our second half of the day and enjoyed hanging out together for the rest of the day.

Christmas Eve

Christmas 2014 is pretty much behind us, and tomorrow will be the first day of a new year! I think this Christmas will always hold special memories for us, since after this year, part of our family will live in another part of the world.

We had a fun time together on Christmas Eve morning, starting with breakfast together at my house, and then doing some cookie baking (some baked, some ate).

Erica started running a fever on Christmas Eve afternoon, so the Masseys stayed home from the Christmas Eve service. Since Daniel didn't get off work in time, Mom and I attended the service at Grace, and then joined the family for our traditional Christmas Eve dinner of Chinese food.

And then we got into our pajamas and took turns filling each others' stockings. We finally got the girls into bed to hopefully fall asleep. It took one of them longer than the other, but eventually we were all nestled in our warm beds ( I bunked in the room with the girls).

After the girls were asleep, Jeanette and Russell quietly switched out the comforters on the girls' beds and put a new pillow on the foot of their beds for them to find on Christmas morning. About 4:30am, Erica woke me up and asked if she could go to the bathroom. I told her it was fine and she said, "What about flushing?" Mary Lane sat up in her bed and said, "Yeah, it might wake everybody up!"

Erica came back to bed and I was hoping that she wouldn't notice the different bedding. She sat up a few minutes later and said, "Oh! What's this? The comforter is different!" Mary Lane looked at her bed and said, "It's not black and white anymore!" And then she said, "It has hearts all over it and I love it! It reminds me of Mommy!"

I tried again to settle them down and held out hope that I could talk them into going back to sleep. After another five minutes, Erica noticed her new pillowcase, which was made from one of her paintings in art class. She was very excited about it and then saw that Mary Lane had a new pillowcase as well. 

"Look! You have new pillow, too, Mary Lane!"

"Oh! It's made out of my artwork, too!" (It wasn't, but it was an applique of the state of Tennessee, lovingly chosen for her).

By this time, I realized that all hope of going back to sleep was probably lost. Mary Lane asked if she could go tell her Mommy something and I told her she could. Mary Lane brought Jeanette back to our room, just telling her that she needed to show her something. When Jeanette came into the room, she didn't know we were all already awake, so I spoke up and the four of us piled into my bed to wait until the more "reasonable" hour of 6:00 before we got up.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The music of Christmas

Christmas music is one of the key elements of this season for me and my family.

We sing:
My mom sings in the adult choir and the senior adult choir at First Baptist Church all year round, but it ramps up in December. She enjoys the challenge of learning the music and has a full schedule of rehearsals, in addition to the choir's participation in special worship services in December.

I also sing with the adult choir that we have at Grace Community Church for one Sunday of Advent (with a few rehearsals in the weeks leading up to it). Since we only have a choir at Christmas and Easter, it's a special treat for me to sing and be a part of the worship team.

Erica is on the far left on the front row

This year, Erica participated in children's choirs at both First Baptist and Grace. She loves to sing so she had fun learning the songs and when it came time to sing in the worship services, she sang her little heart out with a smile on her face. The first two times she sang happened on the same day (Grace in the morning and First Baptist in the evening). The third opportunity was last Sunday night and she sang with the children's choir at First Baptist during part of the concert by Steve Green. At one point, Steve asked the kids what their favorite class in school is. Erica raised her hand, along with several other kids, and when Steve called on her, she told him her favorite class is Music. Good answer, Erica!

And so I don't leave out little sister, I think she did her share of learning songs and singing along with Erica in the car throughout the month!

We go to concerts:
Not only do we go hear each other sing, we like to go listen to professional musicians during the Christmas season. One big highlight for the "grown-ups" is to go see the Behold the Lamb of God show, done by Andrew Peterson and friends at the Ryman Auditorium. The atmosphere is historical and makes a nice cozy venue. And the music, well it is epic! If you haven't attended this concert and live in Nashville, please put it on your calendar to get tickets next year. You will not be disappointed!
Outside of the Ryman after the show

I am also looking forward to going to Joy: An Irish Christmas concert next week featuring Keith and Kristyn Getty and their Irish band. It is held at the Schermerhorn Symphony Hall and is another great venue. I got to attend their show the first year they had it and it was another highlight of the season.

We listen:
I think it's safe to say that most of us in our family listen pretty exclusively to Christmas music during the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I can remember listening to the stacks of vinyl albums that my parents had when we were growing up, played on a turntable in the big stereo cabinet in the living room. As I got older, I bought my own cassettes and then CDs (and now buy digital songs), giving myself at least one new Christmas album each year. I stopped doing that after I had a huge stack of CDs, but this year I have indulged in some new digital songs (more than I am willing to admit to buying). Listening to Christmas music gets me in the Christmas spirit and helps me to keep my heart focused on Jesus during the hustle and bustle of the season. Of course I like the fun songs about snow falling and sleigh rides, too!

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs/experiences?

Thursday, November 27, 2014

My heart is filled with thankfulness

I have lived long enough to know that thankfulness is not something that everyone can "feel" all of the time. But by the grace of God, even when circumstances are not as we would like or when our hearts are grieving or when we can't "conjure up" thankfulness, God is able to put thankfulness in our heart and helps us to call to mind things that we can be thankful for. This song written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend and beautifully sung by Kristyn Getty is a reminder of how God does that for us.

My heart is filled with thankfulness
To Him who bore my pain;
Who plumbed the depths of my disgrace
And gave me life again;
Who crushed my curse of sinfulness
And clothed me in His light
And wrote His law of righteousness
With pow'r upon my heart.

My heart is filled with thankfulness
To Him who walks beside;
Who floods my weaknesses with strength
And causes fears to fly;
Whose ev'ry promise is enough
For ev'ry step I take,
Sustaining me with arms of love
And crowning me with grace.

My heart is filled with thankfulness
To him who reigns above,
Whose wisdom is my perfect peace,
Whose ev'ry thought is love.
For ev'ry day I have on earth
Is given by the King;
So I will give my life, my all,
To love and follow him.

"My Heart Is Filled with Thankfulness"
Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2003 Thankyou Music

Thursday, November 20, 2014

When little things are really big

Lately I have been the recipient of some seemingly "little" kindnesses that spoke loudly to my heart.

Last Friday, I was casually talking about all the leaves that had fallen in my yard and a little while later, my dear coworker/friend asked me if I would like for some help with raking & bagging them on Saturday.

This would normally be a wonderful gift to get to have some help with that chore, but it was more of a necessity to have help with it this year since I've been nursing a problem with my thumb and am wearing a brace most of the time. Their help was such a gift to me!

And then yesterday when my sister and niece stopped into the church office on their way to Bible study, Mary Lane presented me with some beautiful sunflowers that she had picked out for me at the store. Her mom told me that Mary Lane had wanted to bring me some flowers, which was so sweet! They had no way of knowing how much I was in need of a pick-me-up! I told Mary Lane that everytime I see those flowers, I will smile and think of her . . . and I have done just that!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Things to think on

There are lots of things that stay regularly on my mind these days. Some of them are things I need to do or have done at my house. Some of the things make me sad. Some of the things make me smile. Some of the things on my mind are things I am thankful for.

On Saturday morning, I took some time to go to one of my favorite thinking places. I walked and thought and prayed and thanked and praised. It was a good way to spend an hour of my weekend.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
Philippians 4:8, ESV

Friday, October 31, 2014

Memorable Halloween Costumes

There plenty other pictures I could post today of Halloween costumes through the years in our family. I wrote about some of Daniel's here. And last year I wrote about some of mine and Jeanette's from our growing up years.

Today on Facebook, I changed my profile picture to this one of me and Jeanette:

I got some fun comments and so I gave some background. I didn't really like dressing up for Halloween when I was growing up. I couldn't ever figure out what to be and our family wasn't really into buying costumes from the store. This particular year, my parents were going to be out of town on Halloween, so in preparation for us being with a sitter, we got to get some things from the store (a face paint kit for me and a "real" mask for my sister). I think I was supposed to be a hobo clown and was apparently not happy about it (hence the sad face). I'm fairly sure that Jeanette was happier with her choice and was most likely smiling behind her Raggedy Ann mask.

After I posted this picture, Jeanette posted this one of her girls from a couple of years ago.

The costumes and circumstances are different (little sister is trying to help herself to big sister's pumkin), but the expressions on Erica and Mary Lane's faces kind of reminded me of mine and Jeanette's. The dynamics of older and younger sisters don't really change over time!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Family Beach Trip

It has been a desire of mine for a long time to take a trip to the beach with our whole family. Last week, that dream came true, and it was awesome!

Here are some of the highlights:



Morning time

Clear water

Surfer girl

Ice cream

Dolphin cruise

Beach girl

Sister time!


Getting to experience the beach with my nieces.

Time with my college guy

Sweet couple


Daddy and daughters

This sums up how we all felt about our time at the beach!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Favorites: My College Guy

This photo was taken last year, so my college guy is looking less like a freshman these days, but I can't wait to see my sophomore this weekend! We're going to a game and are hoping for a W this week against UT-Chattanooga. Also hope it won't be a soggy mess! Go Vols!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Friday Favorites: Mitford

 I guess I should admit up front that Mitford is not a real place. But the books by Jan Karon set in fictional Mitford, NC, are some of my all-time favorite books! In fact, I've just started reading the first book for the third time (or maybe the fourth).

It's all because the latest book in the Mitford series, "Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good" was just released in September and I bought a copy for my collection. But I wanted to try to wait to read it until I go on a beach trip in a couple of weeks. But I got that hankering to go to Mitford, so I decided to start back at the beginning and read all of the books leading up to the latest one. Not sure if I'll make it through seven books in the next two weeks, but we'll see.

My coworker who has never read the Mitford series was asking me about it the other day. Someone else had recommended it to her and she was interested, so when I also mentioned buying the latest book she was even more intrigued. I feel like I don't give a very compelling description of the characters and storylines, but I also think it's something you have to experience to appreciate. My mom tried several times to get into the series, and only this summer got hooked. Now she wants to be on the list to borrow my copy of the latest one!

As I have been reading the first book again this week, I have just had to smile at being reintroduced to Father Tim, Emma, Dooley, Cynthia, Puny, and Sadie Baxter. Those are just some of the characters who live in Mitford and become a part of the appeal of the books. I've also been surprised at how many important things took place in the first book. I had forgotten the sequence of some things and thought they happened in later parts of the story.

I first learned about the Mitford series when it was fairly new and I was visiting Blowing Rock, NC, for the first time. Mitford is said to be loosely based on Blowing Rock, so when I am reading the Mitford books, I have a mental picture of a quaint mountain town with a Main Street and fun shops. It makes me want to go back and spend some time in the mountains of North Carolina.

So, in the next few weeks, if you can't find me at lunch time or in the evening or on a Sunday afternoon, you can figure that I've "gone to Mitford" and will be back soon with a smile on my face and a nice, warm feeling in my heart!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Long-time friendship

Way back in the summer of 1984, I met my friend, Lydia. We were working as camp counselors at Camp Wo-Me-To in Maryland. Lydia had also just finished her Junior year in high school, but she lived in Puerto Rico and I lived in New Jersey. After camp ended, we kept in touch via letters delivered by a mailman!

The next summer, she returned to camp, but I decided to stay in New Jersey and work at Hahne's department store (I'm thinking of two separate posts that could be written about Camp Wo-Me-To and Hahne's). We both graduated from high school and I headed to Belmont College in Nashville, and Lydia moved to Atlanta to attend Emory University.

We each remember me visiting her in Atlanta at some point in our college experience, but we're not sure when it was, nor do we have pictures. We did have some kind of yummy dessert at a Greek restaurant and it was fun reunion.

The next time we saw each other was in 1991, when Lydia came to Nashville to attend my wedding. I remember that we saw each other, but of course, since the wedding festivities are the main event for the bride, I didn't have much time to visit with Lydia that trip. A few years later, Lydia and Darryl were married, and I got to attend their wedding. Again, not much time for visiting.

In 2001, my family took a trip to Georgia to see family and we got to meet up with Lydia and her family (each of us had a son by then) for a meal at California Pizza Kitchen. We had a fun time meeting each other's little boy (Daniel was six and Destry was a baby). That time we got some pictures!

Another few years went by and Lydia and her family moved to North Carolina, not far from where my cousin got married. On that trip, Lydia drove over and we had breakfast together and got to catch up on our lives. She had completed medical school and residency and I was working at a large corporate financial company (for just a while longer--I changed jobs a couple of months after that trip). Once again, we remembered to get a photo!

A few weeks ago, I got a text from Lydia. She was planning a trip to Nashville to attend a conference and wanted to get together. I was so excited that she chose my city and we made plans for what we could do together when she wasn't in her sessions. Since Lydia's only other trip to Nashville was over twenty years ago and she'd basically seen a couple blocks of the downtown area, she was open me playing tour guide. She stayed at a new hotel downtown that I hadn't seen yet, so it was fun to get to see the Omni and then walk over to the pedestrian bridge and take a little walking tour of the Broadway area. We also ate dinner at Acme Farm Supply, a cool new venue for food, drink and hanging out.

On Saturday night, my mom joined us and we went out to eat at the Loveless Cafe ('cause you can't get too much country cooking when you're visiting Nashville). Sunday afternoon we went to Calypso Cafe and an antique mall and then I got to show Lydia my house before I took her to the airport. We had such a good time catching up and were both thankful that we have been able to stay in touch.

Lydia loves to make jewelry as a hobby, so yesterday, I received a fun package in the mail. She made me a pretty bracelet and earrings to match, in my favorite color. I will enjoy wearing these and thinking of our friendship that has spanned thirty years and counting!