Sunday, December 30, 2007

Good Bye 2007

All in all, 2007 has not been a bad year. I played tennis with a woman who believed odd numbered years were designated to be bad years. She only planned fun for even numbered years and sat out the odd numbered years in Houston. She didn't want to be away from her home when the bad happened. I know, none of this makes sense, but then a lot of people I know from tennis who don't make a bit of sense, even or odd years.

I quit making New Year's resolutions years ago, but if I am forced to say some in a small group or in some type of weird small group prayer time, these are the resolutions I say: "To stay up too late, not get enough sleep, care too much about my job, not care enough about my job, spend too much money, eat too many sweets, not exercise enough and forget to drink a lot of water." Now those are resolutions I know I can keep.

What I am most thankful for in 2007.
  • In a word, Roy. We have been married 30 years. He takes such great care of me and loves me in the good and the bad, the tough and the easy and in tired and in not tired. He keeps me on the right track. He is a lot of fun, although most wouldn't know that. Most people see serious Roy.
  • My Friends, especially my three closest friends, Peggy, Lisa and Dena. I love doing life with them. Different from each other, oh yes, but life is so interesting and far from mundane when anyone of them is around. I love it when the four of us do something together, there are a lot of laughs and stories to be retold and as time goes on embellished.
  • My friend Beth in Seattle. She and I have known each other since the 6th grade. We have seen each other through the terrible teenage years, to college, to marriage, family stuff and now in the reflective time of life. She and I still write letters, no emails. We have been friends longer apart than together, yet when we see each other it is as if time has not gone by. Don, her husband, and Roy get along great and enjoy each other, so it is never a drag when we do things as couples.
  • Blogging, this has been the most fun for me. When I am worn out and dragging my butt tired, I can sit down and begin to blog. I am refreshed and energized by the time I have finished writing. I love that many of my friends blog and I have learned so much about their hearts and thoughts through their blogs. People I know, but didn't understand have become "must check their blog friends" to see what is going on in their lives. I have blogging friends I have never met, blogging friends that I see almost everyday, friends who comment, and friends who never comment. Lurker friends that I don't even know about and it is through the world of blogging. Several years ago I said to Dena, why would anyone want to blog? Who would want to put stuff out there on the Internet? Well, now I know and I am thankful for you all my blogging friends. Thanks Kelly for inspiring me to blog. Dana thanks for always encouraging me.
  • Buddy. I love Buddy. She brings me such joy. She is never very far from me when I am at home. She loves to play and she is finally sleeping through the nights with just a few "nocturnal roaming incidents" that get her banished from the bedroom. She is everything that her name says, she's my Buddy.
  • Cheryl. Cheryl is my therapist and it would not be hyperbole to say she has saved my life. I have been seeing her off and on for several years. At first more on than off. She has taught me so much about managing me and my emotions and helped me begin to use the default setting I needed to use. Last month my dad had expressed interest to talk with her. Of course red flags and warning lights were going off inside me. I wanted him to get help, but dang it, not from my therapist. Of course I realize now after being hood winked by his actions in November, that he never has any intentions of he or my mother seeing a therapist. Right after Christmas my dad and I had a conversation and as he kind of made fun of me for having to have some help to keep moving through life's difficulties, I told him therapy doesn't change the other people or circumstances, it changes us in how we manage those things. I remind him that I paid $140.00 an hour for this wisdom and advice and I share it with him for free. What a deal! So, in 2007 and in the years previous, I am so very thankful for the wisdom and encouragement from Cheryl.
  • The Word. Yea, I needed to get the spiritual in here. He he... But I love God's Word. Everything that I need for life and godliness is in The Bible. I love that The Word is alive and that passages I have read a million times are fresh. There are things I haven't seen in previous readings. God speaks to me in His Word. I love that I can pray the Word back to God and He hears me. His Word doesn't return void and it accomplishes what He pleases. The Word would also include God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I loves it all!
  • Nordstrom. The Nord. What a wonderful place to shop, SPA, and eat. I can have a horrible day and I go to the Nord and peace overcomes my horriblness(a word I once heard used by a man on the news. I know it is not a real word, but it does say a lot) There are days when I take a book and my journal and sit in the Bistro and have a time. A lot of days, I just go sit by the piano man to listen close up and then have a bit of conversation with the pianist. And contrary to what many believe, I can go and leave without buying a thing. Although buying stuff there is a lot of fun.
  • My church. Which also is my employer. I love my job. It is only the second job I have ever really loved, the first one being at AstroWorld where I ran rides all through out the park. This job sometimes feels like a ride operator and sometimes it feels like I am on the roller coaster with the ups and downs of work. I experience much more ups than downs. Sometimes it is hard to believe I actually get paid to work with my friends and get to do work that makes an impact for eternity.
  • Books. Think you know if you have read my blog for any part of time, that I have a book addiction. I love to read and love to have unread books right at my finger tips. There are so many unread, they are at my toe tips as well.

There are so many more things I could write, but heck you didn't come to read just to be put to sleep. If you have difficulty going to sleep, do what I do, read insurance forms or policies. It will knock you out in no time flat.

Happy New Year! May 2008 be Great. I hear that 2008 is the year of new beginnings, but really every year is that. My theme verses for 2008 are Psalm 84, Luke 5 and John 21.

I don't go back into the office until January 7th, so I probably will be blogging a little more than usual for the next week or so. Cindy R, I will get those time away forms to you when I get back in. Sorry about that!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Condo-Manium Part 4

It has been a while since I've updated the condo happenings. I have not seen casserole lady during the holiday season. Since she is in retail, this is probably the reason.

I ran into Deloris a couple of weeks ago. She was decked out in her party attire and with her was her constant companion of a small soft sided cooler-perfect fit for a 6 pack. I asked if she had been to a holiday party. Noticing the soft sided cooler looked empty and the squint-eyed look directed at me she softly said yes... well yes if you consider poker a holiday party.

Roy is practicing his addiction to books by buying books at Amazon for a penny. Here lately I have made a daily trip into the condo office to pick up packages...mainly these books he has been buying. On one of those trips I ran into Fern. Fern of pool fame. Her off-season look gives me a jolt of surprise, her make-up is bright. Fern hibernates during the winter. She usually isn't spotted until spring rolls around and she is back at her standard of by the pool.

One of the gay guys who hasn't been well, looks much better than several months ago. He is no longer using a walker. Anorexic lady is doing well, walking the hallways constantly.

An interesting lack of interaction is between my French Jewish neighbor and the couple whose condo is right off the pool area. Frenchy looks hard and bitter. She rarely smiles. Several years ago, Frenchy, her mom and couple by the pool did a lot of visiting at the poolside tables and that led to antique shopping excursions, which led to a brief affair between Frenchy and hubby of the pool condo couple. It was embarrassing obvious what was going on and then the condo grapevine got a hold of it and I think it maybe true, the wife is the last to know. When wifey finally saw the light...all that visiting stopped. Frenchy and mom now take a different route to the mailboxes or condo office.

I had heard that the 102 neighbor lady had died. She fell and broke her hip, which led to complications which caused her passing. At first I doubted that report, because her Christmas wreath has been up since Thanksgiving and according to my source, she fell in early November. While passing by her doorway last week, there was a young man with one of those wheels that measures dimensions. I think now that report is true. I will miss seeing her at lunch time when she dressed for ladies luncheon. Her lunch friends must really miss her, she was alert, humorous and politely opinionated.

There is another older lady who lives here that sits around the pool and constantly walks the property. I don't know her name, but I would know her laugh anywhere. It is a deep laugh that gets deeper. She fell a couple of months ago by the pool and she was on a walker. The condo association repaired the place in the cobblestone pavement that cause her fall. She is without the walker and getting along well. When the weather cooperates, she is out and about.

After several months absence the large group of people who maybe run some kind of phone sex operation are back. If I hadn't seen them come in from the grocery store, I would have known by the inserts from Allure, Glamor and Vanity Fair on the ground by their patio area. They probably don't run that kind of business, but in passing, based on their side of a conversation, it sure sounds interesting.

I know I must be leaving someone out...and there are several I have not given reports on, but I must gather more info before posting my report. It feels like NYC in the evenings when we pass by doors where there is cooking going on. I am happy to report that in our section of hallway the fragrance of balsam fir fills a few feet of space. No tree, but I am the happy recipient of a balsam fir candle.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

December 26

The day after Christmas, whew...I am glad to be moving onto the next big holiday which is New Years. For the most part Christmas was uneventful with family, which is really good. Christmas was eventful in my heart. Maybe next year I will take the time to decorate and do a little more around here for the holidays. I never put out any of our nativity sets, which I have a bear one that I love to display and never quite got around to it. I think I anticipated cooler temps and time off more than I anticipated the day. But, we did celebrate differently this year as not to get set in a routine. I will blog more later but thought I would set out a few pictures from the holiday season of Christmas.

My parents in front of their tree.

This be us on Christmas Day in the morning. We did not see 3 ships a sailing though on Christmas Day in the morning.

Below are a few pictures from across the street from CourtneyS mom's home. It is a blast and so much to see. I was a little discouraged when CourtneyS said she hadn't seen much work on the house this year. We drove by on Sunday night and he was on the roof putting out more lights. We went by last night and were stunned by the additional lights.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!
Buddy in a bag, a Nordstrom bag at that. While I was getting gifts together and sorted the other day, Buddy climbed into one of the Nordstrom bags on her own. It was a photo op if I had ever seen one.
This morning before the next few days are busy with Christmas giving, Christmas treasures and ponderings, I thought I would take the opportunity to wish you all the best of Christmas.
Once all the holiday festivities are over, I know we will all be back checking in with one another. I look forward to reading your Christmas stories.
One of the best Christmas stories I have ever read is by Harper Lee. It is the story of her gift to the world, "To Kill a Mockingbird." The process and birth of Mockingbird is told in an article she wrote for McCall's. Harper was living in New York City and worked for an airline. She rarely had any Christmas vacation and when she had a few days, it wasn't enough time to go back to Alabama. In reality, there wasn't much for her to go back for in Alabama. She found herself spending Christmas with friends, who were also displaced Southerners. On Christmas morning as gifts were passed out, Harper was feeling a tad left out. Not one gift had been passed her way. After everyone had received their gifts, the friends asked Harper if she thought they had forgotten her. Her words stumbled as she professed I hadn't even noticed I hadn't received a gift. On the tree was an envelope with her name and inside it contained a letter from her friends. The letter said, quit your job, we are going to support you for a year so that you can get your book written. She was quite taken aback. That was too huge of a gift-what if they lost their jobs? How could they be this generous? The friends answered, we are young, if we loose our jobs, we will all get new jobs to support ourselves. Because of this sacrificing gift given by Harper's friends, we now have the much beloved and treasured story of Scout, Jem, Boo, and Atticus.
There are very few of us that can give that monetary type of gift, but there are other gifts that we can give that can make an impact. Encouragement, words, time, our full attention are just a few to mention. Give little things along the way to let others know there is a place in our hearts for them. When someone is going through an especially difficult time, do what you can to give them a lift in spirit during the arduous process. God can take these little things and multiple them like the loaves and fishes...enough to take care of everything and have a little left over.
Merry Christmas!
Love, Nancy

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas Plays

It seems that December has gone by quickly and just now I am thinking toward Christmas. I haven't listened to all the Christmas music I wanted to hear, I haven't written any cards or notes. I've looked at Christmas lights and have my shopping done. So much of my shopping was done very early and now as the days wind down to Christmas, the last of my shopping is done online.

My mindset in December is just hang in there till vacation. Get everything done and off your desk because time off is coming. So my vision has been time away from the office, not on Christmas or the joy of the holidays.

But, I have done two different variations from normal, I attended two plays. One a musical version of "It's a Wonderful Life" and a one woman show, "Sister's Christmas Catechism, The Mystery of the Magi's Gold."

On Thursday night Dena and I went to see It's a Wonderful Life. Caroline Taylor plays the part of Gracie Bailey on even nights. She was wonderful in her role. We had 5th row center seats to see the performance. To tell you the truth I have never sat down in one sitting to watch the movie version. Jimmy Stewart just seems so mad and put out during the whole movie, so there in lies the difficulty for me to pay attention. Too many miffed people to be with in life, why would I want to give time to a movie? I loved the musical version. One of the songs that is sung numerous times by George Bailey is, I am not a praying man but God if you are there, answer my prayer. George reasons that Mr. Potter is the only hope for him to get the money and when George is rebuffed, he cries out, thanks a lot God. Only there are things afoot in New Bedford and his friends and family come to his aid and rescue-problem solved in the details...God answered his prayer in a way he could not see or even think could happen. I think God answered Dena's prayer at dinner, that we would could see God's presence in our time at the play.

This is Matthew and Clarence. These two actors were awesome. And yes, Clarence got his wings.

Caroline drew the long straw and lost out on the publicity picture,but here is the Bailey family with their happy ending.

On Friday night Roy, Bill, Peggy and I went to see Sister's.... Roy and I had seen Late Night Catechism in Chicago last year and loved it. Peggy and I have envisioned doing something like this only about Southern Baptists. It could be done. Roy is the only one among us that was raised Catholic and attended parochial school. Roy is three for three in winning something from a Catholic themed play. Sister stages a reenactment of the nativity. She figures that Mary used the frankincense and myrrh in the barn as a room freshener, but no mention of the gold. So she brings people out of the audience to play all the parts. Each person gets a costume and the costumes were so creatively done. We loved it and had a great time. In the play, one of the questions that Sister asks is, what do we know about Mary before the angel came and spoke to her. Roy won a Jesus snows you pencil for his answer, she was from the house of David. Now, that is the Baptist answer cause we heard Pastor Gregg talk about that. Someone else answered all the traditional Catholic answers. But isn't that thought provoking, what do we know about Mary. Something to think through and ponder.

Well, this is all to my reviews. Oh, there are several other Sister plays that have been written since the original Late Night... They are a blast, not sacrilegious and all done in good taste. If you get a chance go see one when they are playing in your area.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Penguin Who Changed Christmas

When I was in Jr High, that is what we called Middle School back in the day, one of the required courses in the 7 grade was a semester of art. I anticipated this class with the hopes that by some miracle the art gene that maybe had lain dormant for all of my 12 years would suddenly make a glorious appearance. I hoped all my desired longings to be creative and artistic would finally come to the surface. One of our first projects was to use textured backgrounds for a drawing that we would create over the background. I did fine on the textured background, but the art teacher felt deep pangs of sympathy for all my inability to draw. She penciled in the outline of a horse on its rear legs and I merely painted in the horse. We got an A for our joint effort.

Ceramics, the next art form to be conquered was much more difficult than textured backgrounds. But I bravely decided to make a Christmas decoration. You see, my brother has the artistic gene. His projects and artwork were prominently displayed throughout our home. It was my turn to shine for I created a Christmas penguin. So I began the difficult task of creating this sculpture and ode to the penguin. Since texture had been my forte, I decided why not texture on the penguin. I went past a texture line though, only thinking that if a little was good, a lot would be marvelous. Once we created our piece, it then went to the kiln for firing and eventually it came back to us. Can you imagine my disappointment when my beautiful creation turned out like this?

My 12 year old eyes still saw a thing of beauty though and that night at dinner I proudly unveiled my beautiful Christmas creation. I innocently thought I would hear oohs and aahs, but all I heard were guffaws of laughter. Wheezing kind of laughter where sound has ceased. Just being 12 years old with emerging hormones and with the huge self esteem issues that we all go through, the reception of my art overwhelmed me. My beautiful penguin was being called a buzzard. Honestly, it does look like a buzzard, but it had been created a penguin. I left my place at the table and put the penguin the farthest back shelve in our hall closet. I never wanted to see that ugly thing again or be reminded that I was a complete and total failure when it came to art. Through the rest of jr high and high school years the penguin would be brought out of the closet and laughed at, a memory for me I wanted no part of.
Then one Christmas while I was in college, I came home to see the penguin on display in our den with red and green yarn tied around its neck. I ignored it and continued to do so as the Christmas seasons of our life rolled on. Time has a funny way of changing things. It began a tradition in our family that it wasn't officially decorating time at Christmas until the Christmas Buzzard made its appearance.
We grew up, moved away, got married but every year when we all gathered at my parent's home, there was the buzzard. Now a much loved decoration. When my parents moved to Georgetown, Texas for several years, my mother was distraught. It was Christmas and she couldn't find the buzzard. I believe their second Christmas there, she finally found it. As we all gathered around for dinner, my mom did a proud unveiling of the buzzard and this time it was welcomed with all the oohs and aahs and joy that I had anticipated when I was 12 years old.
Luke 2:6 says, "while they were there, the time came for her to give birth." God had prepared everything. He was in every detail. He sent angels to announce the birth of His Son. God made sure that Simeon was at the Temple and that Anna, His praying servant, knew of His Son's birth. What may have looked like poor planning to the inn keeper was God in control of even this humble birthplace. What looked to some as a laughable situation, a baby born in a stable to poor parents from Nazareth, was a thing of beauty and impact for the whole world. Then it was time, for Mary to deliver and give birth at the right moment in time with every detail in place.
And as the years have gone by this birth of Jesus we celebrated as children is more to me than a once a year story. We were so 'smart', Jesus is God's Son and He came to save us, but there weren't any gifts for us, so we thought from this. All the while knowing it was Santa and our parents that gave us gifts. But one year Jesus became more than a piece in a Nativity set for me, He became my all in all. I realized everything good and perfect gift came from Him. That there was not anything in me that could pay the price of being loved and accepted by God. It was receiving God's gift as my Savior and Lord. No more a lovely story read from the Bible or sang in our children's Christmas programs to me, it is the Life of God, His Word, He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He is the Great I AM.
Now I am not saying my Christmas penguin is anything compared to our Lord Jesus Christ. But what I am saying is this, now that the buzzard resides in our home and is out on display year round, it has become a good reminder for me. Not to look at things on the immediate but see that God has a plan and timing for every detail in our lives. Ecclesiastes says He has made everything beautiful in His time. There are situations and circumstances that don't look beautiful right now, but just as our buzzard has become beautiful in time, our understanding of what God is doing will become beautiful and a wonder.
What joy! Emmanuel with us! Celebrate Jesus!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tales of Adventure in the Gallerstinkinria and Other Fun Stuff

I ventured this morning to the Gallerstinkinria. I went early enough to score a primo parking spot close to an easy exit as I wanted to be at Eddie Bauer's by 9:00 when they opened. About a month ago, I ordered some boots. First they sent me the wrong size, color and boot. They were wonderful and shipped my new boots overnight, but actually, they shipped me two different pairs of boots overnight. So, I took back the pair I hadn't ordered. Since the mall was quiet and hardly populated, I went to a few other stores before heading back to The Nord for my 9:45 massage. Concerning my massage, I feel sorry for anyone who had an appointment after me cause all my tight muscles may have worn Stacy out. I had booked an hour and a half massage and I needed every moment of it. Since my knees have been bothering me she took a lot of time with my knees and hamstrings. Once it was over, I floated on out to finish up my day. I nearly didn't even notice all the traffic on Sage but I also was on the phone to Peggy getting caught up with her. Tomorrow night, Bill, Peggy, Roy and I are going to see A Christmas Cathecism. Roy and I have seen Late Night Cathecism in Chicago and this is the Christmas version. Now of the four of us, only Roy was raised Catholic, but you can take the same principle and apply it to growing up Southern Baptist...more or less. Same amount of rules, less worship of Saints and Mary. It is an interactive play and I know Peggy will want to be a part. Only knowing the past, Roy will get picked. He always does and he is the least likely of the four of us.

Last night was the Second Annual Royal Ride. It is a Monarch and 3 Kings celebrating Christmas with dinner, gift exchange and then putting the top down on the Mustang and looking at Christmas lights around Houston. This year's ride was particularly interesting, at some point Jordan, Madi and I began to make monkey noises. Then we went onto jungle and foghorn noises. We embarrassed their mom Jenea, who gave it her best shot for monkey noises, but she lacked the talent the three of us obviously possess. We had a blast. We even drove by Scary Angel. In the front second floor window a man was playing computer solitaire. We tried to get his attention, but he was really into his game. I really would like to know the story of the angel.

To Courtney and Michelle, we miss you both so much at the office. It doesn't seem the same without the two of you. Maybe one day you can gather up all the childrens and come up for lunch or something. To Linda, I think y'alls picture is cute. To Cheryl in St Louis, we do have a fun staff at Houston's First Baptist Church. We are just a small percentage of all the people who work there. This is how fun of church staff we are, for our staff Christmas party, we went to Dave and Busters for lunch and then some scavenger hunt fun. It was a blast and I will be going back cause I didn't use up all the tokens on my card.

Today when I was leaving the Galleria, I had 2 cars fighting it out for my parking spot. One of them even pulled behind my car so I couldn't leave until she had made the other driver clear on whose parking place it was. I could have gotten out of the car and walked back into the Galleria, but I was afraid I would come back to a destroyed vehicle.

If you haven't entered the Nord Card drawing, go to Traditions and enter.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Secret Santa

The Ministries office did Secret Santa this season. I think everyone had a blast. If you had Dana or Linda, it was a little more challenging to drop goodies off. Rae was sneakier using a mole to drop off goodies while she was on vacation. Yesterday at 10:00 we guessed and then celebrated with all the secret Santas. Think we will also do secret cupid @ Valentines.
Here is Dana and Linda aka "LMS" in the blog world being all fun and festive.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Scary Angel

Scary angel, how I love you. How I tremble as I'm driving by. Are you playing dead or are you alive?

This is scary angel. This is a daytime picture because she is so scary at night and I am not a professional photographer so there isn't enough light to take a picture. This person was able to get a night time picture. This was from last year.

It is difficult to tell by this picture, but this angel is as tall as the two story house she stands next to each Christmas. The scenario goes something like this, you are driving along in River Oaks being dazzled by all the lights that hiring minimum wagers can string when you come across the house with scary angel. If it is your first time down Chevy Chase at your first glance you give out a muffled what the????? To tell you the truth this angel is scarier in the day than at night. I rushed to take the two pictures yesterday afternoon kind of afraid we would be confronted by scary angel's owners. In some way I was kind of hoping for that encounter because I have a lot of questions. Where does one come by an angel as tall as a two story home? Why do they think this is a Christmas decoration? Where do they store this angel the other 11 months of the year? Last year the angel had a huge wreath looking thing in its arms and in the darkness of the night, it didn't look like a wreath at first glance, it looked like something dead hanging there in all the Christmas glory. You will notice this from the link.

Going to see scary angel has become a Christmas tradition. I don't know why, but we are funny people that way.

So if you are ever in Houston around Christmas, Chevy Chase off the west side of River Oaks Boulevard. You will not be disappointed...only frightened and you'll think of scary Fall Festival time at your church.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Additional Pics from A Weekend Wonderland

Here Peggy and I are leading the class in singing Hark the Hearld Angel Sing on the 4th verse which we did not know very well.

Yes, I know I am wearing orange in the Christmas season. Sometimes I like to change it up a little. I figured there would be a lot of green and red this morning and I really like this partiular jacket.

One of our first dance moves.

This is during our jingle bells portion of the dance.

Of course we end it with more beautiful ballet moves.
Here is Roy after being a wiseman in the Christmas program and sometimes the wisemen are referred to as kings. So, you know this is coming, on Friday was One Night With the King. Or this age old joke, once a king always a king, but once a (k)night is enough.
***** Additional explanation**** The above is merely meant for satire and laughing purposes. Do not read anything into the above except for a play on words******
Hmm are these the wings that Dana referred to on her blog?

Walking in a Weekend Wonderland

This weekend went by so quickly, but that happens when you are having fun. Actually this weekend I was going to be a Tibetan monk doing the Hallelujah chorus, but my knees began to act up and I had to drop out. My friends in the chorus did a great job.
Of course my heart belongs to the red king or wiseman. He did a great job after a couple years lay off of being in the Christmas program. He did a great job and the beard isn't half bad. Never in my whole married life did I ever think that my husband and I would take off our makeup together.
I went to the Friday night performance with Dena. On her way in from Austin she came by and picked me up. Dinner at Molina's came first, I think it is biblical to eat Mexican food before seeing a Christmas program.
On Saturday I went with Dena and her parents to Galveston to see Tuna Christmas. It was funny as usual. Nothing like Bertha Buemiller and Vera Carp to get you in the Christmas spirit. Then we went to Moody Gardens for dinner and to see the Festival of Lights. We actually decided to see the Festival from a distance cause it was stinkin' cold in Galveston last night. I would add pictures, but something is wrong with blogger tonight and I keep getting an error message. Guess I will have to do that later. Along with the above highlights, we had adventures in fast food as well. The McDonald's in Texas City was memorable and we burned a lot of calories trying to open up the ice cream cup at the Sonic in Kemah. Dena dropped me off at home and Roy was not too far behind in getting in from the last Christmas program.
This morning Peggy and I led music and did our dancing with the scars for our class. Lives were changed and several rededicated their lives not to be like us at all. God moved! Then Dena had to teach her lesson and it was awesome as usual.
I am getting anxious for Wednesday because that is when I begin vacation. Tuesday will be fun at the Staff Christmas party, so it almost like I have just one day left before vacation. I am going to need the break because the winter spring semester will be a long one.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Thank Goodness it is Thursday

It didn't seem like it was going to begin as a restful and quiet evening. The days this week have been full of proofing, more proofing and much proofing and just when you think you have caught every mistake or spacing problem, someone else highly trained in the art of proofing comes along and finds even more corrections. What we are working on is a good piece and we all desire excellence, but proofing is exhausting work. I leave late and trudge to my car knowing I have a couple of packages to pick up at the office. Nearly everything I packed into work today is stuffed in my ever fashionable Vera Bradly messenger bag for the return trip home. On my way into the office, I stop and pick up the mail and forcibly cram it into the before mentioned Vera Bradley messenger bag. When I finally make it into the office, I am greeted by 4 rather large and cumbersome packages. My suggestion is I come back for them, but the admin totally loads me up with boxes and the encouraging words, I know you can make it. With those good words ringing in my ear, I begin the trip upstairs. Slowly but surely I make it to the door and drop everything. My phone has rang twice and I when I pulled in I told Lisa P I would call as soon as I got inside. One of the boxes is a most generous gift from Gerti and Charlie. It is a heritage apple pie. They are so good, but on an evening when all I am looking for is rest and quiet, unpacking a pie and then rearranging a too small refrigerator wasn't on my to do list. The pie is packed quite nicely and surrounded by packing peanuts. I tried really, really hard to remove the pie without spreading great tidings of packing peanuts all over the kitchen floor. I was not successful in my endeavor, so while trying to talk to Roy, whose day has been about as fun as mine, I am picking up peanuts and throwing them back into the box. Only thing, I must be really strong cause the packing peanuts are crumbling as soon as I touch them. Ya gots to know Buddy is right there "helping" me. Each time I have made a return trip into the kitchen I find myself singing, "found a peanut, found a peanut, found a peanut on the floor....

Speaking of singing, I may not decorate for the holidays, but I certainly will belt out the Christmas standards where ever I find myself. Saturday, I sang Merry Christmas Darling twice as I sat in the play grocery store parking lot. I looked over to my right to see a man sitting in his car with a puzzled look on his face. He probably didn't know if I was in pain or crazy or singing or all three. I reluctantly left my car without finishing the song. I was in Sam's a couple of weeks ago and sang along with some tenor. I wasn't humming, I was singing out loud in my best tenor voice until I noticed people looking at me. Hey, I was in a moment and enjoying Christmas.

I've been thinking about favorite Christmas' of my childhood. There really aren't too many that come to mind that rekindle kindly thoughts, but I always liked it when we went back to Illinois to spend Christmas with the family. The weather was much colder than Houston and sometimes we even had a white Christmas with crunchy snow everywhere. My grandparents had a two story home and the stairs creaked something awful. In my memory I can hear the tired footsteps of my grandparents coming up the stairs to bed and I laid there listening for their arrival when I should have been fast asleep long, long ago. Some of the most memorable times were after dinner and all the adults would go to the living room to visit. How boring we thought. Why would anyone want to sit around and talk when there was so much energy to expend and places to go and things to do. My cousins Becky, Lois and Mark and my brother Doug and I would go upstairs and sit in the area that wasn't really a hall or a room, but space to enter into the two bedrooms and bathroom. In that space was an old radio consul. The other side of this big wooden piece was a stereo. I don't ever remember playing records, but we would tune into WGN to listen to the tales of The Cinnamon Bear. Once the program was over, we planned and plotted and decided who would go down the stairs to spy on the adults. Surely they were talking of secret things and we would learn of their mysteries. Because again, why would anyone want to sit around and just talk? Remember the stairs squeaked. I don't think any of us made it down too many stairs before we heard that creaaaak and who ever made the faux paux would run back up the stairs before any adult could ask us what we were doing. Of course our laughter and squeals never gave us away. When I visited my grandparents in the summer, I would practice going up the stairs finding the quiet spot on each step, but by the time we came back for Christmas every other year, I couldn't remember the trick. I remember one particular Christmas when I was very young, my grandfather asked if I would like to go look for Santa and his reindeer's since it was Christmas Eve. We began our search by going upstairs and looking out the back window at the gas station on the corner and the neighbors backyards. He would make some noise that would make me think that Santa was near by. Then we would look out the front window onto S. Illinois Street and the elementary school across the the time we came downstairs, we had just missed Santa. He had already come and delivered the gifts. If we had only stayed in the living room, I would have seen him.

I loved it when we all would go to church with my grandparents. All our families would take up an entire row. I think my grandmother was always happy and a little proud when she had everyone together at church. That seems to be my recollection.

My grandmother was a great cook. No one could make fried chicken like her. And her rolls were out of this world. I think Becky learned her recipe, I never did cause I've never been a big fan of cooking. I think Lois made desserts with grandma, but I am not too sure about that.

Just sitting here writing about my day, my singing and my childhood Christmas' has revived me. Roy just called from Christmas program practice. They just gave him a spray on tan that should last a week. He hadn't even been to the manger yet with his wise man gift. He thought they were going to run through the program twice. How lovely it is to be here at home, looking at my books that arrived today from Amazon. I think some hot chocky is calling my name.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I love reading about Christmas traditions that have been established throughout the years. Roy and I have several but there is one tradition that I hold near and dear to my heart. The one particular one that I am thinking about is not necessarily a Christmas tradition.

When Roy received a raise right after we were married, we decided then that each time one of us got a raise, promotion or bonus that we would do something for someone else. Some times our gifts were given anonymously to people, some times we explained why we were giving a gift. It has been one of the most fun and special traditions in our 30 years of marriage.

Now knowing this tradition I would like to announce a give a way to begin the New Year on a good foot or hand. What better way than to start out the year with either a pedicure or manicure from SPA Nordstrom and I will give away a $50.00 gift card for that. Enter by leaving a comment letting me know you would like to participate. It goes without saying that no anonymous comment will be excepted. Gotta have a name or blog name. On Monday January 7th, when I return to work, I will have a co-worker draw a name. I will then contact the winner.

Believe me, a pedi or mani from The Nord is a good beginning. Oh, I will not be entering the contest as tempting as that might be.

Kirk, Work and Thank You

OEG let me have the demo of Kirk Franklin's new CD that will be in stores December 18. I am listening to it while I read blogs and post on my own. It is really good and love the message of the CD. Once again Kirk ROCKS!!!!

It has been extremely busy at work. I think I got MidLink off my desk and off to the printers this afternoon. The next wave of relief heard will be when Milestones has been proofed and ready to roll. After that I have few odds and ends to take care of and then I will be free to go on vacation without anything hanging over my head. I have my books lined up and ready to read. Been making a couple of lunch dates while I am off, but I don't want to get too booked and not take the time to relax and rest.

I began using my travel journal last week. Put my verses for the year in it and added some meaningful words to some of the pages. Last night I ordered a book from Amazon, OK, it was more than one, but I digress. It is a journal of travels and I am hoping that I get some helpful hints for my ordinary life journey journal.

Roy realized he has not taken much of his vacation this year. He has been so busy and every time he planned to take some time, an emergency of some kind came up. He is still in the process of hiring. There are not too many well versed in all the areas that Roy's dept. covers. I am waiting for him to get home. We are going to see if China Love is open yet.

During our Ministries Staff meeting this morning, Gregg came in and joined us for a while. I loved listening to his heart for minisitry. It is a joy to serve with a Pastor who is transparent. It was a fun staff meeting this morning. Jason had a list of questions about Christmas and he called on us to answer. My question was, have you ever been in a Christmas Pageant and what part did you have? That was so easy to answer...Big angel, Santa, Miriam dancer, part of a crowd in old English scenes, a robot dancer from the future, and a shopper. Shopper was probably my best part I ever played. It is also where I played Mildred for the first time. I was never a good biblical actor. I didn't have it in me to over act with extreme gestures etc...

This year Roy is a wiseman in the Christmas program. He is fretting that he doesn't have time for this, but it is good for him to have a cushion and some change of pace right now.

Give some props to your Sunday School teacher for Christmas this year. A lot of personal time is sacrificed to pray and prepare a lesson. I have been a Sunday School teacher here and there throughout the years and the encouraging word of thank you is a wonderful gift to receive.

I have to admit I have been hard on some teachers in my years. In my early years I always read my lesson and Bible...for several reasons and none of them spiritual. I liked checking the boxes on the offering envelope that said Bible read and lesson studied. I studied the lesson mostly to create chaos in Sunday School. You cannot wreck havoc if you are not well versed and prepared. It is imperative to know the material. I am also quick witted, so that helped with the weekly endeavor called going to church. My poor mom had so many Sunday School teachers call and want to come visit...without me being around. It got to the point at promotion time, my mom would call the teacher and tell her they could save a lot of time and heartache if they had the "meeting" at the beginning of the year, rather than waiting until it was too late. It wasn't that I was trying to be mean. In my mind, if I was going to give up sleep time the lesson better be good and the teacher should know her stuff. Every once in a while I had really good solid Bible teachers who were also fun, but mostly the teachers were kind hearted, probably begged to teach ladies. In the first years of being a Christian, I actually tried to contact some of them and apologize. I really needed to go over to their homes and do penitence.

I have repented from my early days and have made a vow to my teacher now I will not do anything to interupt or cause problems. I hate to admit it but it was just until several years ago that I stopped making my comments out loud. I had a Sunday School teacher that I did not like, at all. Had no use for her or her lame props she brought every week. In fact, I didn't like her lessons but only went so I could tell Roy at lunch what was wrong with her and what she said. She was kind of prissy and a know it all and I thought it was my calling to take her down a peg or two. Like I said, I have repented of my ways.

Well, Roy just called China Love and they are open, so we are off to dinner.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Mildred and Gertrude at the UBA

Friday night Mildred and Gertrude came to the staff party at the Union Baptist Association. We had a blast. I better check on Monday to see if I am still union and Baptist. Gerti was not feeling well and had a sliver of a voice in a deep bass range. I was waiting for her to belt out a Barry White signature song, but Barry is not in a genre that she knows. Musical theatre is her bag.

We used a basic script that we know in our sleep. We added the personal touch in our house, Spam and cookie segment.

This picture to the left is our Spam turkey after we have put the finishing touches on it. There are several other pictures, but this one was the best of the bunch. I look through these pictures and can see my Grandma Doss in Mildred. Grandma had this little stiff legged walk. Her stride was short and she seemed to be always leaning awkwardly forward. I find myself walking like that a lot. I wish I had asked Grandma if she had bad knees cause that is how my Grandma Doss walk is developing.

I can officially put away all my Mildred stuff for a while. We love doing these together, but I am always happy when my free time becomes mine again and I don't feel guilty about not studying my script.

Friday, December 7, 2007

One Fine Friday

It is a beautiful Friday afternoon in Houston. I am happy to read that Amanda writes about peace for Christmas, CourtneyS writes about joy, and Beth is writing about frustration in the Christmas season. I haven't decided the direction I am going with this post, but it could have something to do with peace, joy and frustration and a few other things as well.

This week has been a week of extremes. My work in particular has been all over the place and back. We are in the midst of finishing up all the basics for the brochures that will be coming out about Milestones and Midlink for the Winter/Spring semester. We need to get that finished up and out the door for the printer and mailing. There are loose ends to tie up and whoopee, I think it is all knitted together right now, well it was when I left the office yesterday. Jason is in and out for the rest of the year. So when he is in for a few minutes, I am talking and submitting papers for signature at the speed of light. In the midst of celebrating Christmas, we had our first meeting for Spring Loaded which is the all church event two weeks before Easter. I also nailed down our guest for Broken for You, the Maundy Thursday service before Good Friday. Well, maybe nailed down is not the right term to use for people during Easter week...we got our person booked. That is much better. The details for this week's Cafe Ascend have been taken care of and the most glorious bit of news came to me Monday. One ministry that has come under Ministries will be now a part of the Mission's office. Nothing wrong with this particular ministry except there is just one of me and their work is extensive and time sensitive and I think it will be a better fit all the way around.

In the midst of the busy week came other issues that kind of hit me all at once on Wednesday night. It is the feeling and knowledge that I have so many depending on me. Had a long talk with my Dad about future decisions we will be making for my mother. It nearly broke my heart when I visited with her after the long discussion. She could not put a sentence together and she had difficulty putting any kind of cohesive thoughts. Sometimes when I talk with my father, I ask for the gift of discernment. You have to wade through a lot of junk to find the nuggets of truth. I believe this to be truth. He goes back in January for another PET scan, because his tumor from Non Hodgkin's Lymphoma is changing. My brother's blood platelet's are down again and will probably have his spleen removed sometime soon. My parents stay concerned and worked up over his situation and his choices in life. On Tuesday evening, I was supposed to go with the BRD (Back Row Divas) to see a friend who had surgery and just retired. I ended up punting on that, had a couple things I really needed to take care of that evening and I wasn't up for it physically or emotionally to be "on" and in performance mode. Oh, BRD, we mostly met in choir years ago. We were known as the Back Row Altos, but then that would be BRA and we didn't want that on a t shirt. Had a little melt down on Wednesday evening, but back on track Thursday morning. A little tired, but back.

During the week at lunch we began to tell silly stories on ourselves. Not one being shy about re-telling some of my stupidest episodes, I told this story. When I was in college, I worked part time for ABC Baby Furniture Store. One evening, I went back to the storeroom to open up a few of the boxes that had baby mattresses in them. These boxes were well made and well sealed and it usually took two to open and then removed the mattresses. I was by myself and thought how hard could it be to do this by myself? So, I began tugging at the top of the box. Then pulling and yanking at the top of the box. In the midst of all that pulling, tugging and yanking, my hand slipped off the box and came at my jaw in fist form at lightning speed and when I hit myself in the jaw, it is then I learned I have a glass jaw, cause I knocked myself out....mama says knock you out....hard and I fell back in a dead knock out. No TKO for me. When I came to, things were a little blurry, but security had the stock boy in handcuffs and escorting him out to a waiting police car. I have EMS over me bringing me to and I am mumbling with slurred speech, "he didn't do it, I knocked myself out." Now most of the employees were scared to death of our stock boy and they tried to interpret my dazed and confused confession. "Oh, he knocked her up so he knocked her out." NO!!!!!! Finally, they listened to me and realized that scary stock boy hadn't done a thing at all. He just happened to be the one who found me. Soon all that sympathy for me changed to pity, cause who could be so stupid as to knock themselves out? I hate to admit it but I have done this several times since then, hand slip off while opening a box and hitting myself. I have never knocked myself out again, but dang I have a mean right jab.

Roy and I cannot wait for China Love to open. China Love is better known as Hunan Chef. I have no idea why we call it China Love except that the attorney Roy clerked for one summer called it that. They were located by IKEA and we are waiting for the new location in the Home Depot shopping center to open. We were in the mood for Chinese food last night. We drove by in hopes of an opening. Not to be. Close to it, but not yet. So we went to Hunan Inn. Love their Lemon Chicken. Roy had never eaten there so he got his boring usual Pepper Steak. So Jennifer was there. Of course I didn't know she was there until she made a comment on my blog that she has been reading it without ever posting. Got to love that she didn't want to come up and say, I stalk your blog. I told her she should have. So here is a little shout out to Jennifer and Hunan Inn.

I wrapping it up but need to tell this. This morning I had a 10:00 appointment with Charles to get my eyebrows done and my lip waxed. He does a great job. Oh, this all happened at The Nord. Anyway, I know you are supposed to make the eyebrows dramatic cause they frame the face, but when he handed me the mirror and I saw them, I said to myself...No wire hangers! For those of you who have no clue what I am writing about, Mommy Dearest, Joan Crawford and the enormous eyebrows and shoulder pads. I do not have shoulder pads on today. Then I looked at shoes till 11:00 and went up to the Bistro. Had lunch, studied my lines for Mildred and Gertrude tonight and then went to get my hair cut. Nice relaxing morning. I did wipe some of the eyebrow gel off, I kept scaring myself when I saw my reflection.

Got a CD of Christmas music that has Bleak Mid Winter on it. Celtic Christmas music, it is beautiful!

Peggy barely has a voice and we are doing M&G tonight for the UBA (Union Baptist Association) Christmas party. If you think of us, especially Peggy, say a prayer for her. We have such lovely voices as is.

Got my last paycheck in the mail today from the Bakers. An end of an era, but the beginning of more free time.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

A Few Thoughts Here and There

Dancing with the Scars went very well. We love going to Foundry Methodist Church events. This is our second time to be at their women's event for Christmas. We were warmly welcomed from the moment we hit the room. Afterwards, we were able to visit with several of the women who attended and it is humbling to realize that God uses our silliness to bring laughter and a moment's happiness from the stress of life. It is always fun when we can ad-lib off our script and have a fun time with the audience. We are doing our Getting Ready for the Holidays for the UBA staff Christmas party on Friday night. We are looking forward to it as well.

Today, we had an ED staff Christmas tree decorating party. Lots of fun putting up the tree. We had cookies to munch on while we decorated and Christmas music in the background. Our office has a lot of fun together.

Friday was my last day at Mrs. Baker's. Bob and I had a discussion several weeks ago about concluding my time there. It has been difficult for me to continue on with them. When Mrs. Baker knew remotely who I was and why I was there, I did not quit because she didn't deal well with change. Now that she is in full blown Alzheimer's my exit is easier. I worked for her for about 10 years. She and I enjoyed our time together, discussing books and events going on in the world. Right after I had started working for her, Mr. Baker passed away. For the first few years I worked for her, she was gone almost every summer to her home in Jackson Hole. I was able to make a few trips up that way with her niece. When I left Friday, Frankie was there watching over Mrs. Baker. I almost teared up telling her goodbye. Mrs. Baker was in her chair fast asleep. I appreciate the Baker's tremendously. I learned a lot from doing correspondence and paying her bills. With Bob retired and what needs to be paid done by automatic debit and with the nurses hours on Quick Books, I felt good in the timing of my leaving. Bob said, we figure you are tired of coming over with all that is going on in your life. That is so true.

Going over to her home which will be a tear down once they sell gave me a glimpse into 1950's and 60's society. Mr. Baker had been innovative in getting the most from a home filled with 3 growing boys. Most of the homes around her have been torn down and the monstrosities are growing. She has lived a full life complete with memberships to the Houston Country Club and the Forest Club. She has traveled the world. She loved the Lord and served Him in the best Episcopal way. Going over there and watching her decline to becoming virtually a prisoner in her own home and body is tough. I am reminded how quickly life moves and how fast things become just stuff to maintain. Her money keeps her with 24 hour care but that is about all it does for her right now. One of the kindest things Mrs. Baker ever did was while she still of sound mind was to have me sit on the ottoman by her chair. She asked me if my grandmothers were still alive. I said no. She said well, I want to give you a gift, and she asked me to lay my head on the arm of her chair. She began running her hands through my hair and putting it behind my ear in that grandmotherly way. She said everyone needs to remember how their grandmommy's played with their hair. It is one of the most touching things that anyone ever did for me. Sometimes when I tell this story, people think she gave me money, cause she has more money than God... Nope, she gave me that wonderful gift that afternoon. She paid me really well for what I did, more than I probably should have ever made doing what I did. She sent me flowers and fruit baskets at Christmas and always remembered my birthday. Working for and serving Mrs. Baker has to be some of the best work I have ever been a part of.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Getting Our Gaither On

If you noticed the lack of older people at malls, restaurants, parks or other gathering places on Friday night, it was due to the fact that The Gaither Christmas Homecoming Tour was at the Berry Center. The fact of the matter is, back in the day, The Gaither's were contemporary Christian music. In my recollection it took a lot of guts and prayer for a Music Minister to do a choral arrangement of any of their work. It was too wild and not churchy enough. things have changed. Actually, a lot of those in attendance Friday night have probably forgotten that fact, the Gaither's were once trendy, edgy and relevant. Now they are comfortable and much loved friends. Dena and I went Friday night and in our section I believe we were the young people. The Berry Center is Cy Fair School District's all in one complex complete with event center, meeting rooms and a football stadium. I don't know if it was built with geriatrics in mind, but those older people climbed those stairs and navigated the terrain well, but slowly. One thing about a Gaither show, they give you your money's worth. The show began at 7:00pm and we were leaving after 11:00 pm. There was one 15 minute intermission. That's a lot of music and it was so enjoyable. Now, if you are thinking it is hard to believe I'm a Homecoming music fan, well I am. Don't put me in a box, I love all kinds of music. I even bought my first country western CD a couple of weeks ago, Rascal Flats. I am not a big country western fan, but I like their music. Had to do a little shopping while there and I bought 3 CD's of the Issac's. I have always loved blue grass music. Must be my Kentucky roots.

Here we are getting ready to get our Gaither on.

Now the odds of friends from HFBC who were not with our senior adult group, were slim that they would be in the seats next to us and the odds were on our side. But we had the wonderful surprise of Emily and David and Sally and her husband seated in the next four seats. So we had a great time laughing and enjoying the concert all together.

Dena dropped me off at home around midnight. That is way past my bedtime these days and I had an early morning on Saturday to boot.

Since Dena works out in the area of the Berry center, Roy and I took the HOV lane out to Mustang. He dropped me off and then he went and looked at Hummers. We are getting closer to making that purchase. Anyway, I took my Dancing with the Scars script to occupy me while Dena took care of a few things before leaving. I knew to bring something to read because the last time she needed to take care of a few things, she gave me a spiritual gift test to keep me occupied. I have taken that thing so many times, I can cheat and give myself the gifts I wish I had.

Here is Dena posing for a picture. She would not like for you to notice her messy desk.

In the above picture she is approving invoices. Someone must have gone over budget by the look on her face.

We had a great dinner at a little hole in the wall Mexican food place before heading out to the Berry Center. We got to the concert early enough to not have a problem with parking. When we came out afterwards, there were a million busses. What are the odds that several misdirected older people got on the wrong bus. I wanted to get on one and act like I knew everyone and see the reaction, but getting home to get some sleep was far more pressing than amusing myself with a funny.

I do have one worry about heaven but I guess the promise of resurrection bodies and no sin, really this worry won't play such a big part. But dang it, I don't always have patience at large Christian gatherings. We block the way, don't think of others with our actions and get pushy at the concession lines. I will have to trust that God has that all under control in heaven.