Dec 28, 2008

can't... seem... to... blog...

Hello one and all. I trust your Christmas was filled with love and laughter and peace and joy.

We had Christmas in our family, too. Why haven't I written about it?


a) My brain is so fried every December by the time Christmas rolls around, all I can do is sit, stare, and drool. (December is nuts in my office, what with all the peeps wanting to have surgery whilst they are on vacation from work or school and while deductibles are met, yielding the highest insurance benefits of the year.)

b) My dear husband got this flu bug thing that landed him in bed on Christmas Day.

c) My dear husband shared his flu bug thing with me, and I'm now buying stock in Tylenol Multi-Symptom cold products.

d) my attention has been mostly focused on my new little toy. Oh, I've had it since just before Thanksgiving, but that isn't nearly enough time to learn all about it and explore the various apps one could download.

e) I have developed an addiction to playing Demon Solitaire on my new toy. Or WordWarp. Or Wurdle. Or Pyramid Lite. Or Bejeweled. Or any other mindless yet stimulating game.

Let me know how YOUR holiday was. I promise I'll write about ours soon.

Well, if I can break away from... playing... with... the...

Dec 14, 2008


Tonight my family went to see Gloria! at our church. Can I just say... A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.

We enjoyed EVERY second of it. We had awesome seats (what a story there!), and couldn't have asked for better ones. I took a few pictures with my iPhone.

Me-Again and her family came.

Dad and Mom came with us, too.

The 500+ voice choir and full orchestra rocked the house.

This year, there was a special guest. We had an up-close-and-personal view of him. We sat, um, pretty close.

Those feet? They belong to Daniel, my nephew who sat next to me. That round black and white thing a few feet away? The satellite stage where The Guest played the piano and sang and entertained.
Yeah. We were close.

And here he is at the piano, literally a few feet away. John Tesh.

He sang "It Wouldn't Be Christmas Without You," a song he wrote for his wife, Connie Selleca, to whom he has been married 17 years.
See that red streamer at the edge of the stage? At the end of the very first choir number, all these shiny streamers in different colors fell from the ceiling into the crowd. One landed right at the edge of the stage.
As soon as he finished the number he was playing, he came around and stood in front of the piano. He leaned down and picked up the streamer and then held it out to me saying, "Oh, a streamer fell. Ma'am, is this yours?" "Why, yes. Yes it is," I answered with cameras rolling all around. (DVD available on the church's web site in about four weeks!) My brush with greatness as David Letterman would say.

Next, John (we're on a first name basis now) called a seven-year-old little girl named Carly from the audience to help introduce his band. So cute!

He read his very own 2008 version of "Twas the Night Before Christmas." It was humorous and poignant. So what that his face is all washed out by the bright lights in this picture. HE WAS RIGHT. IN. FRONT. OF. ME.

His three instrumentalists and one vocalist (well, technically one person was an instrumentalist AND a vocalist) did a few numbers right there at our feet.

At the end of his final segment, he challenged the congregation to employ their gifts to help others and recognize our own personal ministries. He was great, and his love for the Lord was evident.

What a night. What a great night. It was...


Dec 12, 2008

The Mantel

When I was growing up, I always loved to visit my grandparents' homes. They were always full of wonder and interesting and different things than were seen around our house.

My dad was raised by his grandparents. They were the sweetest people. Most knew them as Stewart and Eugenia (or "Eugie" for short). I knew them as Nana and Gimpa. (Yes, Me-Again, I know. If I said "Stewart and Eugenia," I should've said "Gimpa and Nana," putting both references to them in the same gender order. But we didn't call them "Gimpa and Nana;" we called them "Nana and Gimpa." Deal with it. Love you.)


They lived in this big ten room house at 1829 Belleville that they purchased in 1926. (Picture taken in 2007. Still looks good!)They raised my dad in it and still lived there by the time Me-Again and I came along. We loved to explore the attic (the two small paned and gabled windows at the top) and wander through Nana's pantry to see what goodies might be awaiting us if she hadn't just made a fresh batch of her famous custard. Oh, how I'd love to have some of that custard now!

Visiting Nana and Gimpa and PawDad (my dad's dad who lived with them in his later years) was especially fun at Christmastime. Everything sparkled and was so lovely... a fantasy land for a little girl. In Nana's huge dining room, there was a table in front of the tall window that held the most wonderful ice skating scene made with a mirror, rolls of white cotton and darling plastic "skating snowmen" whose knapsacks held real lollipops that good little girls were allowed to sample. It even had little green pine trees that stood in the snowy cotton to complete the outdoor scene.

Perhaps our favorite thing in the house was The Mantel. Its crowning glory was the nativity scene she placed in the center. Nana bought in 1908 for PawDad's first Christmas. Every year she put it up with care, and she even wrote out directions for placement of each figure in case someone else had to put everything up in her absence. They included such details as placing the camel with the broken nose facing a certain direction "as if he was wandering off" so the broken part didn't show so much. Dad still has those written instructions.

Eventually Nana gave Daddy that nativity and Santa's sleigh with white plastic reindeer that went on one end of the very long mantel. (The other end had a gorgeous white church with a rotating color wheel in front of it. We loved watching the colors change. I'm sure one of Dad's cousins has the church now.) The nativity has been displayed on the mantel at Mom and Dad's house all these years since, and this year, it is 100 years old. One hundred years old. A century has passed since these small figures where purchased by a loving mother for her firstborn. I didn't realize it until just recently, but that mantel manger scene was part of the faith legacy of my family that was being passed on to me, even before I was born.

Check out these pictures.
PawDad (my grandfather) is in the center, and Gimpa (my great-grandfather) is on the far right. The nativity is behind them.
Taken the same year, this picture cracks me up. So serious! I always remember Nana as jolly and happy and one who loved to laugh. Front row starting at left is my great aunt Ida Belle (PawDad's sister), my Nana who is holding Baby Gail (Ida Belle's daughter), and that cute little guy on the end is my dad at age ten. The back row left to right is my great uncle Stewart (PawDad and Ida Belle's brother), my PawDad, and my Gimpa. Again the nativity is behind them.

This picture was taken when my mom and dad had been married for just six months. Still newlyweds! Left to right, my Nana, Uncle Stewart, Uncle Buck (Ida Belle's husband), my PawDad, Aunt Ida Belle, my dad (seated on the arm of the chair), and my oh-so-serious mom. The little girl in front is one of my dad's cousins, but I'm not sure which one.

Here's the nativity as it looks at Mom and Dad's house in 2008. Dad put the reading lamp in front of it for photo lighting.

Here's Santa's sleigh with the reindeer. Never mind that the reindeer:
a) are of different species and sizes.
b) are 30 times larger than Santa himself.
c) have beady little red eyes.
Obviously Nana used her imagination in combining reindeer and Santa sleigh pieces she came across over the years. It makes me smile just to think about her and the many funny things like that she did over the years.

I'm glad this nativity came to reside with us. Nana died after we'd moved from Virginia to Texas. I was in my early teens. Gimpa and PawDad had both passed on by then, and I never went in that beautiful old house again. I hope the people who live in it now can somehow feel the warmth and love we always felt inside its walls.

Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas, you beautiful old nativity scene!

Dec 5, 2008

I Am Second

Have you seen it?

Have you heard about it?

It's time you did.

"I Am Second."

I've had the immense privilege of being in the audience to hear Josh Hamilton speak. Chris Plekenpol was the key note speaker at a fund raiser I attended last year. Rick Briscoe is the pastor of the church where Studly Man was formerly a member. I have first hand knowledge of how real Stephen Baldwin is because of how he and his wife partnered in ministry with and ministered to friends of ours whose toddler son was dying of cancer. Jason Castro (no relation!) is known in these parts to be a talented young singer from American Idol AND a man who loves God. Tony Evans is one of my all time favorite pastors and teachers, and he is a frequent guest at my church. Rod Bayron has been with our team into juvenile prisons.

They are second.

Are you?