Tis the season!

Congratulations to my sister Sheila for accurately identifying the source of the title of my previous post. Yes, I was thinking of Hamlet and not Troilus and Cressida.

In the spirit of the season, I’m posting this little quiz. I’d love to hear your answers! I’ve included mine.

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate?? Hot Chocolate!

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Family presents are wrapped, Santa presents sometimes wrapped, sometimes not. We’re not real big on Santa but do love to wait and put gifts out on Christmas Eve.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? White lights

4. Do you hang mistletoe? Never have but I’m considering it this year to “up” the romance factor in the house. All a part of my quest to be a better wife! 🙂

5. When do you put your decorations up? Mostly the weekend after Thanksgiving, but I’m a Christmas groupie and keep buying things and putting them up throughout the season.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Tie – I like the visual combination of spinach casserole and raspberry / cranberry congealed salad. The dark red and green look really good together and they both taste GREAT!

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child: Going to my grandmother’s and spending time with my cousins every year.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? We never made a big deal about Santa in our family so I don’t really know.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? With our own nuclear family, we draw names after Thanksgiving for a “secret Santa” for lack of a better term. We do nice things for the person all month and then buy them a gift ($10.00 limit). Those get opened on Christmas Eve.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? Lots of lights then the ornaments

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? We rarely have it so I LOVE it when we get some.

12. Can you ice skate? I did once, but that was 25 years ago.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Harry Connick Jr. Christmas cd that replaced my worn out tape.

14. What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Celebrating Jesus birth and enjoying my family.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Pecan pie

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? Playing Christmas music. We have a standard set that we play all month — Michael W. Smith, Point of Grace, Harry Connick Jr. and, of course, Handel’s Messiah in full at least once a week!

17. What tops your tree? An angel

18. Which do you prefer giving or Receiving? Both

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? All is Well by Michael W. Smith

20. Candy Canes! yuck or yummy? Yuck!

21. Favorite Christmas Movie? A Christmas Story “You’ll shoot your eye out!” Ha ha!

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It’s beginning to look a lot like . . . .Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Day is just around the corner. Can you believe it? Today the air is cool and crisp but the weather man is predicting temperatures in the upper 60’s for Thanksgiving Day. We have a family dinner planned with my parents, my sister and her husband, and my younger brother, his wife and their three children. We’re meeting at my parents’ house and dividing up the cooking responsibilities so no one has to bear the entire load.

Which reminds me — I need to catch up on my list. I took a few days away from the computer but I’m back in my office today to work on some grad class assignments. So are you ready? Here we go – Friday through Monday.

Friday – Today was the last day of classes before our university’s week-long Thanksgiving break. Woo-hoo!

Saturday – Today was the LAST meeting of a particularly challenging class I’ve had this semester. The end is near! I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully, it’s not a train coming to smash me to bits.

Sunday – Today I got to take Rebecca to get her senior pictures made. Our friend Maury is a work-at-home mom with a photography business. She is an amazing artist with an eye for detail that many do not have. We went to the Old Mill in North Little Rock and the state capitol building in Little Rock. The weather was gorgeous and the pictures look great. You can get a sneak peek at Maury’s photo blog. The rest of the pictures will be posted at here later this week. If you live anywhere near central Arkansas, you should call Maury. She was recently published in At Home in Arkansas. What an honor!

Monday – I’m so thankful for laughter! My friend Denise included this site on her blog. Put your name in the box and see what movie quote you get. Here are my results:

I always say a kiss on the hand might feel very good, but a Lisa lasts forever.

Ha ha! You can do it over and over. Rebecca and I had a great time with it yesterday. Here’s another one I got:

Lisa, for lack of a better word, is good.

See, I have proof now.

God IS good!

This time last week, I was feeling very overwhelmed. I had four big projects due within the week plus all the usual work tasks. So many things have happend in the last few days to lighten that load that it’s nothing short of miraculous. First, my teachers changed due dates on two of the four assignments. Instead of having two projects due last Tuesday, one this Saturday and one next Tuesday, I had one last Tuesday, one this Friday, NONE for Saturday, one for next Tuesday and one for the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. A WHOLE week to work on it! Yippee!!

Even with all the adjustments, this has proven to be a busy week. I set aside this morning to catch up on my thankfulness . . .

Sunday — I’m thankful for my daughter Noelle and her friend Libby who are real troopers. At the last minute they agreed to do a demo of the right way and the wrong way to lead singing for a bunch of elementary school aged girls. They were great!

Monday — Monday needs a title. So many things! How about “The Day of Incredible Gratitude”? I am incredibly thankful for my teacher who emailed and gave us an extension on a research project due Tuesday. I am incredibly thankful for my friend and fellow student who pointed me the right direction on a database analysis project. I am incredibly thankful to live in Searcy, AR and have the amazing doctors we do. I’m also incredibly thankful that I am paid on salary and don’t miss any $$ when I miss a day of work to take my child to the doctor. Also thankful for Isaac Stern whose amazing violin abilities kept me company while I did my homework.

Tuesday — Thankful that tonight’s class was truly interesting. As much as I love my job and the whole library world, talking about the behind-the-scenes stuff is not my cup of tea. Tonight we talked about working with patrons and being sure we are actually answering the question they ask. Library, mind-reading, and service all in one. 🙂

Wednesday — Party at the library! We had the birthday party for all of our November birthdays. I love these people! It’s so wonderful to work with people with whom you can laugh. I was on the November committee so I got to help plan, decorate, and clean up. It was a lot of fun!

Thursday — Today I’m thankful for the fact that after tomorrow I will have a little over a week of not having to work. If I do come in, I can wear jeans and tennis shoes! Woo-hoo!

Happy Thursday everyone!

Saturday

I think that today will test my ability to practice the discipline of thanksgiving. I’m very tired, somewhat overwhelmed by looking at all I have to get done in the next two weeks, and frustrated by a test score I just received. And it’s beautiful outside and I’m working. Sigh.

In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.

In everything, right? Not just the good things, not just the easy things. Everything. OK.

I’m thankful for the bad test grade I just received because it showed me that I need to study more before the next one.

I’m thankful for working on a beautiful day because it means that I have a job and that my children have food to eat and clothes to wear.

I’m thankful for all the work that lies ahead of me because it gives me an opportunity to learn and it shows that my co-workers trust me with important tasks.

I’m thankful for the ability to feel tired and “stressed out” (to use a great 80’s term) because it lets me know that I am human and need God.

I’m thankful for words that allow me to express my feelings.

I’m thankful that being thankful is a discipline and not an emotion.

I’m thankful for the ability to look beyond my current environment and see the beautiful fall-colored tree outside the window.

In everything give thanks . . . in everything give thanks.

Someone I’ve never met

Today I’m thankful for a woman I’ve never met. We had very similar early life experiences and her writings have comforted and counseled me many times. Her name is Stormie Omartian and in recent years she’s become widely known as the author of “The Power of Praying” series. Before that, she wrote two books that spoke to me very directly.

The first book, Stormie, is her autobiography and in it she chronicles her years of growing up with a mentally ill mother. Her struggles were so similar to my own and it was one of the first times that I felt someone else understood. Not only did they understand, but they had reached a point of personal emotional and spiritual health. My theoretical hope became solidified.

The second book was called A Step in the Right Direction. It was recently republished as Lord, I Want to Be Whole. In it, she lays out the process she went through to achieve personal peace after enduring a tumultuous beginning to life. It taught me how to use scripture and prayer to reframe my worldview and how to look at other things in my life and discern whether they were helping me or hurting me.

Years later, I found the first of the Power series, The Power of a Praying Wife. When I go through times of discouragement with my marriage, that books helps me refocus and remember that I can only change my own attitude and actions. I learned with my “family of origin” that it’s very hard to be angry with someone you’re praying for. God really does know what’s best for us, doesn’t he?

Isn’t God good? Doesn’t the way he uses our struggles to bless others amaze you? I need to be more open and willing to share my difficulties. Thank you, Stormie Omartian, a woman I will probably never meet, for showing me the truth of this.

Guidance and Freedom

Yesterday was a busy day and I didn’t have time to list my thanks in writing, so today I’m going to do double duty.

Last night at home Bible Study I realized how thankful I am that God still speaks to us . I am thankful for the times in my life when He has come to me and reminded me that he will always be with me, even when I am hardly fit to be with. I’m thankful for his Word and the way it plants itself within us and I’m thankful for the Holy Spirit who puts it into use within us.

Do I understand how all of these things happen? No, but I know they do. I know that we serve a God who is much bigger than we can ever imagine and that he does things I will never understand. He never tires of me, never rolls his eyes when I come with the same problem again. He sets a high standard — how could I ever love others as much as he does? — but he loves me whether I meet the standard or not.

What a mighty God we serve!

Today I am thankful for the freedom he gives me. I think the Newsboys celebrate it best, so I’ll leave you with their words.

Through You the blind will see
Through You the mute will sing
Through You the dead will rise
Through You our hearts will praise
Through You the darkness flees
Through You my heart screams I am free
I am free

Chorus:
I am free to run
(I am free to run)
I am free to dance
(I am free to dance)
I am free to live for You
(I am free to live for You)
I am free
(I am free)
Yes, I am free
(I am free)

Through You the kingdom’s come
Through You the battle’s won
Through You I’m not afraid
Through You the price is paid
Through You there’s victory
Because of You my heart screams I am free
I am free

Chorus:

Who the Son sets free is free indeed.
Who the Son sets free is free indeed.

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