Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 In Review (Photo Video) ~Happy New Year!

 I love looking over all my pics from the past year. 
Sharing some of my favorites
(Don't forget to turn your sound on.)
Wishing you all a Happy New Year's Eve!
God bless you all! We'll see you in 2013.

Linking over at these blog parties:

Friday, December 28, 2012

The End of a Momentous Year!

Just a few more days of 2012 left! I don't know if it's because I'm getting older or that I appreciate more than ever each and every day I have on this earth, but I feel like life keeps whizzing by, each and every year that passes.

I actually looked at one of the last posts of 2011 and interestingly, I wrote a similar paragraph to what I just wrote above, so it appears I feel that way every year, during the last few days. I also wrote a few goals I had for 2012. Reading over them reminded me that I was able to complete some of my goals, while others did not get done. But I also realized that there have been many little events that kept me sidetracked or other big events that prevented me from completing them. Now, I'm not making excuses. I realize that some of my goals weren't done out of my own laziness or lack of motivation. That's pretty normal for any of us, at times. But, all in all, 2012 was pretty momentous for me and my family.

1. We completed the sale of our home and moved into a much smaller lakehouse/cottage. We also did some repairs to the new house-which included a new roof and new drywall in 4 rooms.

2. I started another blog, called "Cairn Cottage", which has been a fun addition to this blog. I use it to post about some of the less serious things in life, like gardening, decorating, tea parties, fashion, etc.

3. I got a part-time job, something I hadn't really planned on, but it was through God's leading that I chose to apply at our church's counseling center as a receptionist. This was just one unexpected blessing God placed in my life this year!

4. I had the ultimate blessing, just this past week over Christmas, to go to South Carolina (a bit of a sidetrack from California, where I had planned on going last year) with my hubby and son. We renewed our wedding vows on the beach on Christmas Eve day.

There were some goals that haven't been completed fully, but are still in the process:

1. Our son is still at home with us, but he now has a full-time job and has been saving up to move out very soon. The process of helping him get his independence has had many hills and valleys this past year. But God is faithful and His timing has been so perfect. There were many things that our son was not ready for yet, by being on his own and that decision could have been disastrous if we would have had him move out.

 2. I didn't lose the weight that I had wanted to. This was one goal that I struggled with and have to say I dropped the ball. I did try to motivate myself by joining a weight loss challenge in our community, but dropped out of it pretty early. I haven't given up, but am changing my goals from losing the weight to living a more healthy lifestyle, i.e.- eating better, getting more exercise, getting more sleep, and worrying less.

3. Another very unexpected sidetrack was my brother's health. Back in February he was hospitalized with digestive issues, which seemed to dissipate until September, when they became worse than ever. He has been hospitalized now, for over 3 months, has undergone 4 surgeries, and is currently at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Needless to say, Thanksgiving and Christmas were both very difficult, as most of my family were spending time in the hospital, praying for his healing.  He seems to be improving, but it has been a very long and slow process! Again, I'm seeing how God's timing is everything!

As I contemplate the new year that is quickly approaching, I am sure I will be thinking about continuing to work on some of the goals I had from last year, as well as some new goals I would like to make. But, more than anything, I am realizing that I need to rely on just doing what God calls me to do each day, as it comes. I won't let myself be as disappointed, if my goals aren't completed just like I planned. I feel like this past year has helped me see that I can appreciate the little successes and blessings in my life, that everything on this earth is temporary anyway, and ultimately, God knows what He's doing and He's in control. I just have to give everything to Him!

In my last post I wrote how I was praying for several Christmas miracles. Already God has shown Himself to me in ways that I could never have fathomed. He opened doors that I thought would be impossible to open and it seems like He constantly is working in my life and the lives of those I love dearly! What a tremendous end to a momentous year!!

Instead of my normal listing of gifts this week, I decided to post some of our Christmas pictures, which reveal more gifts than words could ever say!
 Spending Christmas on the beaches of South Carolina

Renewing vows on the beach - our son officiating.

Throwing flower petals out to sea!
 Folly Beach, South Carolina (Morris Lighthouse in background)

Old military structures that filled the beach were covered with graffiti....very cool!

Goofing around....I still got him, after 25 years!!
Christmas Eve at the hotel that we stayed at.

Hotel Lobby

Blessings to you all, as 2012 ends
and 2013 begins!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Praying for Christmas Miracles

Just when you think you have the holidays all planned out...
when you anticipate time at home, with family, doing all the traditional things you do each year....
Just when Christmas surprises and exciting events are finally in place...

Everything changes....plans, hopes, anticipations, excitement, and joy...
They turn, 
turn into crushed dreams,  dread, confusion, and sadness.
This past weekend was, to say the least, a difficult one for the victims, families, and residents of Newtown, Connecticut. I actually can imagine the heartache they are feeling and will experience at Christmas, since 16 years ago on Dec. 26, my stepson was tragically killed in a car accident. Christmas should be a time of joy and family time, but that year it was full of sadness and loss. The death of a child is horrific, no matter how it happens. 

There have been so many prayers that have gone up for these families and we continue to lift them up.


This Christmas is going to be unique and difficult for my family, again. My brother, who was just transported from our small Indiana town to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota today, will be undergoing surgery, his 4th surgery in 2 months.  He has been hospitalized with intestinal blocks and bacterial infections for almost 3 months. In his weak physical state, he may not pull through. The doctors have admitted that they can't do much more and even if the surgery is successful,  his body may not be able to fight off the infection.

I know God is a God of miracles! He is in control and knows all that we need and desire. When we come to Him with humble and contrite hearts, He hears us.
... I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you.
2 Kings 20:5 (ESV)

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 
2 Chronicles 7:14-15

But, I also know that not always does He choose to give us what we ask for. Our ways are not always His ways.
I try not to think about the 'what ifs' of life, good or bad. Not only is that not good for the soul, but it leaves no room for the Lord to do miracles in my life. The negative 'what ifs' about my brother are difficult enough to shut out of my mind, but even more difficult are the 'what ifs' if he would not have gotten sick.(Resentment) You see, there is more to my Christmas story.

For nearly 3 years my hubby and I had been planning a special 25th wedding anniversary trip. Last year was officially our 25th, but because of finances and our house being on the market, we decided to wait till another time. I actually had come to terms that it would not happen, since what I had truly wanted was to renew our vows in my favorite place, Charleston, South Carolina on the beach. (I am a big time dreamer!) We had talked about other options, like going to Lake Michigan (much closer) to renew our vows, but it just wouldn't quite be the same. 

Well, to make a long story short, my hubby had actually been planning this coming weekend on surprising me and taking me down to S.C., with our son in tow to stand up with us, and renew our vows on the beach! My ultimate dream! But, that dream was crushed. Instead we will be spending Christmas in cold, snowy Minnesota, where the clinic is located! We may do it another time, but my son plans on moving out this spring, both he and my hubby work and don't have vacation time off other than Christmas, so it is going to take a real miracle for this dream to take place. You could say, I'm praying for two miracles this year.

Sharing the gifts He has bestowed upon me every new day through the Joy Dare.
3 gifts of  difficult choices.
1,170 - Sacrificing my dream, so that I can be with my brother and his family.
1,171 - To concentrate on God's love and blessings, rather than resentment and 'what ifs'.
1,172 - To trust God's plans for our lives, whatever the outcome is.

3 gifts ice cold
1,173 -  Taking the lives of children is so prevalent anymore, our nation is turning ice cold (and less lukewarm) - Rev. 3:15
1,174 - The ice cold reality that God doesn't always answer our prayers in exactly the way we would like Him to.
1,175 - The weather in Minnesota, where we will most likely be staying over Christmas.

3 gifts that are beacons of hope
1,176 - The LORD is my light and my salvation--whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid? Psalm 27:1
1,177 - Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.  Isaiah 60:1
1,178 - I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. Isaiah 42:16
 (other verses on God's light)

3 gifts family
1,179 - Past memories of Christmas' together.
1,180 - The support and love of my family, as we gather around my brother and his family in his illness.
1,181 - My sister-in-law, who is truly an angel in disguise. She has continually been at my brother's side. (As well as my mom.)
A photo from Christmas, 2011. My sister-in-law and brother, who is at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.

3 gifts Bethlehem-unlikely
1,182 - Miraculous healing of my brother's body.
1,183 - Getting to go to S.C. to renew our vow on the beach.
1,184 - This Christmas being a time of love, joyfulness, and peace.

Christmas 2011. My nephew,  niece (and her hubby), who are expecting in May.
3 gifts miraculous
Oh, I choose to wait to share these three gifts miraculous for my next post, for...
 "we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

Our family needs a Christmas miracle this year and I'm praying He provides these glorious gifts.....healing for my brother and a special anniversary trip to renew our vows on the beach.
 Family, January, 2012

My heart aches for those families in Connecticut, who don't find anything miraculous this Christmas! I also pray that somehow, God gives them a Christmas miracle, too.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It's Christmastime Again!

It seems like every year, Christmas gets here way too fast. One minute, we are planning the Thanksgiving meal and the next minute, the decorations are going up. Every year, I tell myself that I'm gonna be more prepared for the Christmas season, so I can truly enjoy it's full meaning.  
Time just seems to speed up during the month of December. This year, our family is enjoying the holiday in our new home on a lake. I wasn't sure how I would adjust to celebrating the birth of Christ in our new, much smaller home. It's an older house and, even though we have already done some remodeling, it still needs some TLC before we have it completed to our liking. 

I'm reminded of how Jesus and his parents celebrated his birth in a unfamiliar town, in a very primitive surrounding. Yet, they found so much joy and gratitude for God's leading them there and His protection. Others came to celebrate the event, as well. But nobody seemed upset or dissatisfied with where they had to go to see the Christ-child. 
This year, it seems like things are simpler. A smaller tree; less room for decorations; and even less gift-giving....yet more time with my family; more peaceful evenings; more time with friends, too. 

When we recently put up the tree and lights, my son came into our house and his first response was, this house is so warm and cozy. Wow!!! That's exactly what we all needed...a more warm and cozy surrounding, where we can truly turn our minds and hearts to that quiet, peaceful evening many years ago, when our Savior was born. Nobody was rushing around to get things done. There weren't panicked people, working overtime to be able to buy everything they wanted. The women weren't in a frenzy, baking all kinds of food to stuff everyone's faces with. Instead...
Kings and shepherds worshipped...
Angels sang glorious songs...
A mother and father rested and rejoiced...

A child slept.

As you celebrate the Christmas Season, remember to sit down, rest, meditate on the Word of God, and concentrate on all He has done for each of us! No big Christmas party is required. Actually, I encourage you to find a "warm and cozy" place, where you can rest in His presence and remember that day 2,000 years ago....the peace, the joy, the love.....

Sharing the gifts He has bestowed upon me every new day through the Joy Dare.

A gift handmade, held, happy
1,134 - handmade: A Christmas light, made with a glass block.(I'll post a photo of it in my next blog post.)
1,135 - held: A baby girl, the daughter of the mom I write to at our local Christian childcare center.
1,136 - happy: When my hubby and I show support and understanding for each other, we both feel so happy in our relationship!

3 gifts with family:
1,137 - Family discussions (most of the time they go well; sometimes they can get heated, though.)
1,138 - Eating at a new Asian Restaurant together.
1,139 - Cutting the Christmas tree together.

3 gifts red:
1,140 - Red bows, tied to my porch lights, blowing in the wind.
1,141 - My red(and black) checked flannel warm and comfortable, when it's cold outside.
1,142 -All the beautiful red Poinsettias on display at the floral department at the grocery store.

3 gifts astonishing:
1,143 - 65 degrees on December 3rd.
1,144 - God's patience with me, as I often don't learn from my mistakes/sin and keep doing things I know I shouldn't.
1,145 - It amazes me that Jesus Christ, the very One Who created me and knit me together in my mother's womb, descended from His Throne to take MY punishment so that I could be given His righteousness and a place in Heaven.

December Gifts:
3 gifts white:
1,146 - New, white socks, worn the first time.
1,147 - My white, velor electric blanket....Oh, so warm!
1,148 - Freshly fallen snow, the first snowfall of the season, here in my little Indiana town.

3 gifts bright:
1,149 -The full moon, glowing brightly, as I drive home from work in the nighttime.
1,150 - Outdoor Christmas lights, sparkling brightly, as we drive through town.
1,151 - New LED lights for my Christmas tree.

3 gifts shining:
1,152 - The star shining at the top of our Christmas tree.
1,153 - An ornament the says "Shine on me".
1,154 - Candles, burning when the lights are the room a glow.

 3 gifts silver
1,155 - silver tinsel, shining in the candlelight!
1,156 - My silver wedding band, displaying the eternal love my husband and I have for each other.
1,157 -The silvery-gray hair on my hubby's head...reminds me that we have been together all these years and I still love him so much!

3 gifts sweet
1,158 - Homemade pumpkin roll with cream cheese filling.
1,159 - My sweet friends, who show kindness and constantly show they care about me.
1,160 - My sweet hubby, who surprised me with clean dishes, when I got home from work one day.

3 gifts from your Savior

1,161 - The eternal Son of God, as He prepared to leave heaven and “the bosom of the Father”(John 1:18)
1,162 - Christ descended to Earth to become also “the Son of man,” (our Savior) with “nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20).
1,163 - "Jesus Christ first took up residence on Earth in his mother Mary’s womb, then in a manger. Then in a house in Bethlehem, followed by somewhere in Egypt until the death of King Herod who had tried to kill Him. His dwelling place then was in the home of His foster father, Joseph of Nazaeth, in a despised village. Eventually His “residence” was on the cross on which His enemies could impale Him. And finally, for three days in a borrowed tomb."(Source)

A gift hung, hummed, heard

1,164 - hung: Stockings hung, not by a fireplace(our new house has none), but on a shelf, this year.
1,165 - hummed: Christmas songs. (At a Christmas luncheon, we played "Guess the Christmas song" game)
1,166 - heard: My son, commenting on how cozy and homey our new home is this Christmas season.

3 gifts ugly beautiful
1,167 - Cold, wet, dreary weather lately....glad it wasn't snow.
1,168 - Not having my car for 3 days, as it gets fixed in the shop. Having to drive a rental.
1,169 - My new job; making mistakes, but having an kind and patient boss.