Friday, December 26, 2008

The Pruitts are Coming!

Vann and I are headed over to help Ricky and Cindy Pruitt (our new youth minister and family) move into their home in the morning.

We're delighted that Ricky and Cindy and their family (Aubrey, 8 years; Laurel, 6 years and Cooper, 10 months old)
are coming. They will be such a wonderful addition to our church. Vann and Ricky worked together when Ricky was a college intern at our former church (some years ago). Ricky and Cindy have a love for teenagers that is so apparent.

Join us if you have some time. We're getting there about 9 a.m.

Oh, this brings back so many memories. It was four years ago yesterday that we made the looooong trek from Atlanta to Abilene. Yes, we did drive here to move on Christmas day. Our moving truck got here on the 27th...just like Ricky and Cindy. wow.

Is anyone else hearing the song from "The Way We Were" - - "Memories...Like the corners of my mind. Misty water-colored memories. Of the way we were." By the way, seeing that movie was my first date with Doug Mayhall. I was in the 10th grade. Doug was a junior. That was a short relationship. But I digress...

Say a prayer for Ricky, Cindy and their kiddos as they adjust to Abilene and west Texas. We're thankful they are coming our way!


Thursday, December 25, 2008

IHOP on Christmas Morn - It Sizzles!

Every one of us has a story to tell every day of our lives. However, on Christmas morning, it seems our stories sizzle. You can almost feel and sense the electricity in the air. The stories either sizzle with excitement; sizzle with mystery; or sizzle with a sadness.

As our family gets older, our Christmases take on a different hue. We no longer get up early and open presents. We sometimes do that later in the day as we will today. Also, presents have taken on much lesser importance in our home.

Our oldest daughter, Katie Lea, was puppy sitting for some friends so was at their apartment last night. Our youngest daughter, Caroline, went to keep her company and this was the first Christmas morning we thought we'd be waking up at home without them here.

After getting up Vann commented that both daughters cars were home. When we went into see them, they commented that their experience was like trying to care for the "cute little puppy" from hell. It didn't help that they were all in a one bedroom apartment.

Anyway, after getting on up, Katie Lea chose to sleep in a little before heading to work and Caroline chose to come with Vann and me to IHOP for breakfast.

We commented that we don't need any entertainment in a restaurant. We are all people watchers to the extreme. We have it down to a science. We can make up the stories about the people at the tables. Sometimes they are funny. Sometimes they are just downright hilarious. We like to wonder what others are thinking about us, too.

This morning we saw an elderly mom having breakfast with her elderly daughter. They were both bedazzled in their finest Christmas attire. I wonder if they were thinking this might be their last Christmas together.

We saw a very young dad eating with his young son. I wondered where the mom was and what their story was. We saw some larger family gatherings as well. They were loud and rambunctious and seemed to have so much fun together.

Then we saw an older man with a very unruly beard and an odor about him. He was eating with his head down. I noticed he had 13 pennies on the table. I wondered if that was to pay his bill or for the tip. I wish I had paid for his meal. I'm ashamed to say I didn't think about it until we were home.

Sometimes I wish I had one of those big, rambunctious, fun families like so many seem to have. Our families are both very small and far away. I just have my brother and my mom. Vann just has his sister and brother in law and a brother who is going through a divorce.

But then I'm reminded that I have many sister friends that are my family and I'm very thankful. Matthew 12:50 says "For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."

Today I'm thankful for abundant life on this beautiful Christmas day. The birds are singing, Yurtle our turtle made an appearance today, Katie Lea is on her way home with the cute little needy puppy, we'll soon be having shrimp and dressing and God is on his throne.

And...there is no better Christmas gift than Jesus. Thank you, Father.

Happy Birthday, Jesus,

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Thank you for your prayers

I so appreciate your prayers on behalf of my visit with my mom. She was in bed when I arrived and sleeping soundly. After trying repeatedly to wake her, I just chatted with her while she slept.

I was able to tell Mom the things I wanted to share with her. I believe she heard me. It was wonderful just spending a little time with my mom, rubbing lotion on her hands, reminiscing and having a one sided heart-to-heart conversation.

The peace of God was with me. Thank you for your prayers and supplication on my behalf.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Memories

One night at Bunco a few years ago several of us sat around and talked about favorite Christmas memories.

One of the gals declared that she really did hear the reindeer on her roof and even saw Santa. But, of course, she did! I can still hear the bell. Can you? (Have you read The Polar Express?)

The story goes, on Christmas Eve when I was a young 'un, our parents had some friends over. My brother, Bobby and I were already in bed but I couldn't go to sleep. I padded down the hall in my footie pajamas and crawled up in my Daddy's lap and told him I couldn't go to sleep. One of their friends, Mr. Hanbury, said, "Why Susan, you better hurry up and get back to bed! You know, I saw Santa Claus just down the street at the Miller's house just a couple of minutes ago!"

I raced back to bed and buried myself under the covers. Daddy told me he checked on me and I was crying because I couldn't sleep and I knew Santa wouldn't come if I wasn't asleep. Daddy rubbed my back until I went to sleep.

The debate these days seems to be "artificial or real" tree, of course. Ours when we were younger was always VERY artificial. We had a gold aluminum tree. You see the silver aluminum trees from time to time now. We even have one. (Of course we have a regular green artificial tree, too.) They are so magical with the color wheel shining on them. For all these years I thought I must have remembered the gold aluminum tree wrong. I haven't seen one in "lo these many years." However, my brother and I were reminiscing the other night and he mentioned the gold aluminum tree. Guess I wasn't crazy after all.

I was in a store in Foley, Alabama the other day and they had an upside down Christmas tree. Amazing! What do you think of that? I think it's kind of fun. Of course, I'm quirky.

I'd love to hear some of your favorite Christmas memories and your thoughts on an upside down Christmas tree.

Jingle jingle,

Friday, December 19, 2008

It's Time

This afternoon we are heading back to Birmingham to visit my mom and see my brother. Visits "home" haven't been as much fun for quite some time. I've written about my mom before. We stopped in Birmingham last week and I was able to see Mom for about five minutes.

Mom has vascular dementia (looks like Alzheimer's Disease) and has been in a nursing center for four years. She was in an assisted living facility for almost a year before that. (The photo to the left was taken about 4 1/2 years ago.)

Because of our distance (I live in west Texas and my mom and brother live in Birmingham) Mom's decline is always very noticeable, as it was this time.

Mom was put on hospice a couple of months ago. My brother was reluctant to do so, but I encouraged him to check into it to see how it could benefit he and mom. He saw the benefits.

My brother, Bobby, and I discussed Mom's journey through this dreadful disease last week. Certain dates have escaped my memory. He reminded me that she hasn't known us since May 10, 2000. That's right. She knew us on May 9th. Eight and a half years.

This afternoon when I visit with Mom, I'll do all the talking as Mom can no longer speak. Mom cannot do anything for herself. Someone has to feed her pureed food. In fact, they have to wake her up for each bite Being in the retirement living industry we call patients like Mom, a feeder. Mom is a feeder. Crass sounding when it's your mom.

I may try to feed her, but my biggest goal this afternoon is to take her somewhere where we can be alone. That's a challenge in itself in a nursing center. I want to rub lotion on her hands and arms. I want to remind her of the many ways she has been a great mom. I want to remind her of the rich legacy she is leaving. I want to play the music box I'll have with me that plays "Que Sera, Sera". This is a song she sang to my brother and me when we were children. I want to thank her for being my mom. I want to tell her that our loved ones are in heaven waiting on her - - my daddy, her mom, her dad, her sister, her brother and many more. And, finally, I want to tell her that it is o.k. for her to leave us. It's just like Mom to stay here with us thinking she can do one more thing for us. I want to encourage her to go on ahead and get things ready for us.

Mom never wanted to live this way. I've asked God so many times why this happened. I don't think I'd understand his answer. It's o.k. I don't have to understand.

I'd appreciate your prayers as I have this one sided conversation with my mom. I believe she will hear me. As always, I'm


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Some Sights from Our Vacation

Gulf Shores, Alabama is just beautiful. As a child, our family would vacation in Panama City or Laguna Beach on occasion. The sugar beaches and blue waters are mystical. Enjoy some photos of Gulf Shores.

What a lovely sunset! The egret was posing for his photograph.

Pelicans are fascinating. This silly boy shows us how they become
bomber divers to get their meals.

Aren't they elegant in a big and awkward sort of way? Isn't the water lovely?

The pretty dunes, pier and sugar white sand.

Footprints in the sand and the vista.

We've enjoyed the Happy Shack, a Hippie Boutique. We had to try it out.
Hey, they promised Free Hugs. Who wouldn't like free hugs?
I was tempted to get a henna tattoo, but thus far have resisted.

But mostly, we've been "singing in the rain."
We've had a lot of rainy weather, but it hasn't dampened our spirits one bit.

Pure bliss,

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sweetie Pies

I love visiting small towns and learning about the things that make them unique and special. Foley, Alabama (about 5 miles from Gulf Shores) is a quaint little town with a lot of southern charm.

Visit Sweetie Pies on the web and you'll see what I mean. Much more of Sweeties pies and I'll have to be on a diet of water for a while. Their chocolate cream meringue pie


What a beautiful southern, seaside town Fairhope, Alabama is. I went to college with a girl named Florence from Fairhope. I have known a girl named Fairanna. I wonder if Fairanna is from Fairhope.

The name is lovely. The town is quaint and serene. The pier mystical.

Mobile Bay Pier

Wind gently tousling my hair and eyelashes
Embracing my skin with it's caress
Flag pole cord whipping against the stand
announcing for all to hear - "I'm here, I'm here!"
The smell of healing salty air
nourishing my lungs
Seagulls speaking to one another in seagull ease
knowing their secrets are safe from me
Children playing without a care as
Water dutifully laps against rocks
Mansion on a hill studying the scene while
Sailboats fritter away the afternoon
Fisherman weathered by life
yet rejuvenated by routine
Niece and uncle reminiscing of old times on the pier
fishing poles lost, skinned knees
Seagulls in a row.
Uniform in size yet God knows each one.
Wordless wonder
Fairhope. Beautiful anticipation.

Living in hope,

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Memory

I have always, always loved Christmas. This year I haven't exactly been a Scrooge, but I haven't gotten into as much as usual. Our family and friends have certainly had a tough year. I'm sure next year will be different.

I still love Christmas, though. One of my favorite Christmas traditions as a child was going to Money and Mac's house. Money and Mac were an older couple who lived in a beautiful old 3 story "mansion" in an older part of Birmingham. They invited our family over every Christmas eve.

Money and Mac were friends of my mom and dad. When my mom had first moved to Birmingham in the 1950's as a young, single woman, she leased a room in their home.

Their old house had such mystery and appeal for me. That's probably a big reason as to why I still love older homes. They had a basement that my brother and I really wanted to see. Mac told us we couldn't go down there because that is where the alligators were kept. We didn't believe him . . . really. Although, sometimes we wondered. Mom told me when I was an adult that maybe he wouldn't let us down there because he may have had a still down there. Well, now, that's a different take on it.

Their house had the tall ceilings, hardwood floors and a beautiful old staircase and a lovely veranda - - not a wrap around porch, but an actual veranda. :)

Money and Mac always had a spread of food on their dining room table. That dining room must have been 25 feet by 25 feet. My favorite unusual food Money and Mac had were the smoked oysters.

They had an old piano and I would play Silent Night a million times and add little flourishes here and there. When I wasn't playing the piano, Money would put music on the victrola. I remember her playing The Andrews Sisters. I would roll my eyes and wonder how anyone could listen to music like that. They weren't nearly as good as the Beatles, I thought.

As other guests would arrive, my parents would start making gestures that it was time to leave. My brother, Bobby, and I were always ready to leave as we didn't want to be out too late. We didn't want to be passed over by Santa if we weren't home.

The ride home was always eventful..usually at least one or two sightings by my daddy of Santa and Rudolph leading the way.

Christmas Eve was one night my parents didn't have to fuss with us about going to bed. We were always ready to hit the hay but not as able to sleep.

I'm so thankful for these good memories. I see today how some of those early childhood memories have shaped me...except of course the part about the still.

Merry, Merry,

Monday, December 15, 2008

Over the Ocean About Now

Serge is flying home to Rwanda right now. He is getting to see family for the first time in 3 1/2 years. He was like a little child in his excitement about returning.

I was so encouraged to see him before he left. He was obviously very thrilled to be seeing his family again, but he is going with a much bigger purpose this time. He is going to check out ministry opportunities for the future. He's a young man with a purpose...and a vision.

Serge's greatest desire is to help the children of Rwanda. In helping them, he realizes he can be a part of positive change for his country.

Father, please be with Serge, his family and prepare them for the change that has occurred in their son, brother, cousin, and friend. May the people he sees be able to see the change in him and be drawn to you and your goodness and love, Father. Be with him every step of the way and keep him safe.

Thank you,

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Oh My!

Don't you wonder how this ever seemed like a good idea?


Friday, December 12, 2008

Life is Full of Surprises

It's all what you do with them. It's interesting. The cat is the only one who looks a little happy. Don't you know the child under the cat was a little surprised when the cat landed on their head? tee hee!

When I was in my 30's I looked up to several Godly women. The problem was, the women I looked up to had been through some really tough times. I wanted to be like them. I just didn't want to have to go through bad things to be as wonderful as they were.

Can you relate? I think I want to be like our son, Serge, "when I grow up" but do I want to go through a genocide and struggle for my life? No. I don't think so.

I asked one of these ladies one day how she had gotten through some of her tough situations. Her husband had been in prison for raping a woman. She contended he was innocent. She looked me in the eye and paused and said, "Susan, what choice did I have but to just get through it?"

Exactly. One foot in front of the other.

Helen Keller said, "Life is either a daring adventure...or nothing." I really like that as long as the adventure is something fun and something I have the illusion of controlling.

Giving up control...again,

Thursday, December 11, 2008

When I Grow Up

I had an interesting occurrence at my work. I serve the most gracious senior residents - - really. They are a classy group. But, this particular day, I got to know one of our residents in a new light. Not so classy.

This woman, I'll call her Bess, almost got the best of me. Dr. C's office called and spoke with me and told me that Bess had called their office. She reported to the doctor's office that her husband had fallen the night before and had hit his head. Bess had claimed to them that no one had responded and that she had pushed the emergency button all night long and had called 911 all night and no one came. The doctor's office wanted Bess' husband to go to the ER since she claimed he had hit her head

I went to Bess' apartment with a co-worker (important in these situations to not go alone). I saw Bess' husband sitting in a chair and unharmed. He said he had fallen but was fine. When Bess finally came into the living room she totally ignored us. Like we were literally invisible. Wow!

I began talking and sharing what the nurse at their doctor's office told me. Bess started speaking very disrespectfully to me. She was really getting in my face. My co-worker and I ascertained that the emergency system did indeed work. I have to say, it was very tempting to get back in her face, but wisdom knew that would only intensify the situation and wouldn't help. Sometimes I'd like wisdom to be quiet, but I'm thankful it's not.

My co-worker and I later met with Bess' daughter. Bless this poor woman's heart. She didn't know what to do. She said her mom gets this way when she gets overly tired. Seemed more like mental illness to me. This daughter has endured a lifetime of this.

I've been in the retirement industry since 1981. During that time I've learned what I want to be "when I grow up" and what I don't want to be. Bess was a good reminder to me . . .

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How'd you like to be the girl in the middle?

Don't you feel this way sometimes? Sometimes the fat man is "the job" and the woman on the back of the bike stands for too many commitments with family.

Sometimes the shirtless fellow could symbolize anxiety or depression and the gal on the back of the bike might be our negative thoughts of our own limitations.

I want to whisper or shout to the little girl squished in the middle. "Push your way out, sweetie! Life doesn't have to be about being squished! Step out. Be heard. Listen to yourself! Find your security in the refuge of our Father. Don't be buried between a lot of things you think you have no control over."

We do have control. We do, you say? Absolutely. The control is to give up control... and turn it over to our father.

Not squished (today, anyway),

Monday, December 8, 2008

Fa La La-ing?

In the midst of my Christmas-ing this evening, our oldest steps in and nonchalantly tells me that her friend has invited her to go home with her...over Christmas!

What?! You have a home to go to on Christmas, I remind her. Yes, but all of my friends will be gone. This town doesn't feel like home. Two of her three best friends are moving after just a few days

She asks if we could do Christmas earlier. I struggle and want to dig my heels in and tell her "of course not!" as it wouldn't be the same.

As we sit in silence, she gets up to leave and I tell her that she should do what she needs to do. She IS almost 24 years old, I remind myself.

Our oldest has always been close to friends. In my head, it makes sense. In my heart, it hurts.

She's just come down again and tells me she probably won't go. I assure her it's fine. (But...secretly, I am a little relieved.)

As I think about all this Christmas-ing stuff, I think about all those hurting now. This hasn't really been a big "fa la la Christmas season" for me this year.

In a few days we'll spend some time with Vann's sister and her husband (whose house burned to the ground a couple of months ago.) There at that same gathering we'll see his aunt and uncle. (His aunt had breast cancer this year) and their daughter who lost her husband of three years three months ago. 2008 has been rough.

I'm so thankful God walks us through the rough stuff. Living life isn't for sissies, that's for sure.

This year at Christmas my focus has been more outward. Not on the stuff I want or want to give. We'll be pretty light on that this year. But I want to give extravagant love. I found this picture of this woman and it touched me.

I sure have a lot of random thoughts tonight. My head is everywhere. That's o.k. God will bring peace.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Blue Heaven

My new blog header reminds me of "My Blue Heaven." What is My Blue Heaven? It's my space. It's my cozy haven that I escape to to read, rest, sew, decoupage, journal...dream.

My Blue Heaven is at the tippy top of my house on the 3rd floor. It's in an attic room that has been converted to a room. I have all of my favorite things in there. I have religious art (kind of got on that kick when we visited Italy), shabby chic, leopard and all of my favorite things.

Right now, My Blue Heaven is a mess. That's where I am quilting Caroline's quilt. It's got fur, fabric and strings everywhere! Sometimes I catch Vann and our cat, Rosey up in My Blue Heaven. At first, I was like, "Uh, excuse me, but this is MY Blue Heaven. But, God gave me this space, so I'll happily share if there are no comments about how messy it is. And, there aren't.

My Blue Heaven has a window with a lace curtain over it that lets the south light shine in just so. I love the wide plank pine floors that have a little paint on them and I love the turquoise color of the walls and the white trim.

I have original art up in there by Caroline, Katie Lea, a resident from Christian Towers, and other unknowns and me. My Blue Heaven is just a "few of my favorite things." I'm thankful for beautiful places that nourish my soul.

Do you have a special spot that is just yours? It can be a special chair, a luscious throw a desk or anywhere. It can be outside. I'd love to hear where you just allow yourself to be and to dream.


Friday, December 5, 2008

Shandi and Snow

I've blogged about Shandi before, but I'm telling you, this gal has a God given talent. I wish I could write the way she does. Her latest post is very vulnerable and poignant. Friends, Shandi is only 18 years old. If you have any ideas for how to get her writing out to more people, please let one of us know. I feel a conviction about this young lady. One day I will be glad to say "I knew her when..." Check her out.

When I worked at Christian Towers, the retirement community in Atlanta, we had a lady there named Snow. During our annual Christmas party I noticed Snow going through the buffet and loading up her plate. When I looked at her plate again, I did a double take. She had put a whole cheese ball on her plate!!!!

I non-chalantly followed Snow over to where she was sitting and talking with a group of friends. As she dipped off of the cheese ball and scooped one spoonful after another into her mouth I heard her exclaim through cheese ball loaded cheeks, "My doctor tells me my cholesterol is too high and I just don't understand it. I do everything he tells me to do!"

By the way, the photo is of Shandi, but is not of Snow.

Truth can be stranger than fiction,

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I Want to be a Christian...if it's convenient

I've been kind of absent in bloggy world for the past almost week. I really enjoyed time with my family over the break. Quilting Caroline's blanket (shhh, don't tell her) has taken up a lot of my evening time. Work this week has been so busy!!

Cheryl shared something with me this morning that was (I'm searching for a word) ...unbelievable, astounding, mouth drop wide open astonishing. You get the idea.

Cheryl said she had run into Tina (made up name to protect the guilty). Tina is known for knowing (and spreading) all the town gossip. Cheryl lives in a smaller town. Tina asked Cheryl how things were this year with a personal venture and hoped they were better than last year. Cheryl commented that she didn't know they were bad last year. Tina assured her they were bad because Jim and Staci (more made up names to protect the maybe-guilty) had told Tina things were bad. Tina then went on to invite Cheryl to lunch to... GET notes about Jim and Staci in a "Christian sort of way."

Well. Basta ma gida!

Cheryl assured her she didn't have time for lunch and didn't get caught up in the drama of their small town. (Good for her!)

No wonder we don't get Christ's message. We're so busy trying to water it down and make it into something that is pleasing to us. OK, maybe you're not, but I'm guilty sometimes.

None of that picking up your cross and lugging it around stuff. Of course, none of that dying to yourself nonsense either. And lying, gossip and slandering. Why that doesn't matter if you do it in a "Christian sort of way."

My, my,