Friday, December 26, 2008

Counting the Blessing of Christmas

I thought it would be fun to make a list of the people, things, and events that happened this year to make Christmas so special.

1. All the home baked goods from our special friends. I am sure my boot camp that I will start soon will take care of all that extra, extra weight! LOL
2. The Christmas carols and Christmas stations that are continuously playing in my suburban, on my TV, and at my office the whole month of December.
3. The decorations in all the homes I visit and in my own house.
4. Lights that decorate many houses up and down the streets.
5. The cold weather that makes it feel like Christmas (rare in Texas most of the time).
6. For my sister in law and brother in law and their kids that drove 2 straight days to spend the Christmas holiday with us (Tanya, Ron, Reagan, and Tex).
7. For all the family get togethers.
8. For all the good food!
9. For the time I was able to spend with my brother, Grady, and his precious son, Hayden.
10. For my own three kids.
11. For our pets....old and new.
12. For the look of surprise on the faces of the children and joy of opening presents with the kids.
13. For Tex and Gabe's priceless role of playing as Indaina Jones and Buzz Light Year on Christmas Day.
14. For the sweet gifts that my kids made or bought for me (Zander got me a "real" big diamond with his birthday money, Addie got me a Christmas Tree candle, and Gabe made me 4 marbleized magnets for the frig)
15. For the huge mess that Santa brings
16. For Santa's kisses
17. For the days off work and just hanging out with the family.
18. For hours of fun playing with the kids and their new toys.
19. For the outfit and jingle bell collar that Santa dressed Ranger in over night.
20. For the health of those we love so much (still waiting to hear about Louie's spells)
21. For an absolutely wonderful mother and father in law (so blessed that they are just down the road from us. I even work with my father in law).
22. For all the sweet children on our street that keep coming over to show and tell what Santa left them.
23. For my internet and computer that allows me to blog about this.
24. For slouchy, baggy clothes that allow me to snack more often that I usually would.
25. For the TV that was given to us from some special friends.
26. For sleeping in till 10am on the day after Christmas.
27. For the elf that left yesterday and who has returned to the North Pole with Santa until next December.
28. For the good weather the last two days that has allowed the kids a couple of days to play with their new toys outside.
29. For the trash men that come to collect the bags and bags full of trash left over from Christmas Day.
30. For the life that I am living..

But most importantly, I am so blessed for the truth of the Christ Child who was born to be my Saviour on the first Christmas.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Heart of My Grandmother!

If you have been reading my blog, you are already aware of the happenings in my family on Christmas Eve. But I wanted to share something that I want to stick with me for the rest of my life.

A little history first...... since before my time, the Lewis's (on my dad's side of the family) has gotten together for years and years every Christmas Eve. During this time we eat lunch together, sing carols together, let the children exchange gifts, and a play a crazy gift game that can last well over an hour!

When I was younger we spent the majority of the day at my Grandmother and Granddaddy Lewis's on Christmas Eve. But now, that we are all grown and have so many different places to go, we have shorten the get together to about a 3-4 hour event.

After our small feast, we usually get together to sing Christmas carols. We used to all group together and film ourselves singing, but our group has well outgrown the wide lens. So now, the four Lewis children will stand in the middle of the group to lead us as we all sing. You will notice these four in the dad is the youngest and the loudest!!! HA! Love it!

This year when we sang, I couldn't help but notice my grandmother (86yrs old) swaying softly and listening with her eyes closed the entire time. I knew she was in a MOMENT........and I could only imagine. Later in the evening, I spoke with my brother in law about that MOMENT and he said that she had told him after our singing that she was hearing her late husband in her grown children's voices (Granddaddy passed away in March of 1999). I know my Granddaddy was there with us in spirit! And I know he would be very proud of his family and just as my Grandmother is too!

Here is a little video of a climpse of a my family that is truely blessed!

Monday, December 22, 2008

No Place Like Home

Last night was one of the best nights I have experienced PERSONALLY in a long time. I have currently taken on a new job that I am sooo very new to. I am a children's ministry director. The papers say "minister", but I have to admit, I am not 100% comfortable with that. I think it is because I am soo NEW to this. This job is not something I went looking for or even planned on, but in another blog someday, I will tell you how God totally took this in his own hands. I had to obey and do as he wanted. Being a teacher for all my adult life, I am so very "elementary" at this job. But I am patient and know that God will teach me how to implement His plan!

Last night, I had the opportunity to take several families from the children's ministry to a local nursing home. This nursing home is very dear to me. First of all, I grew up in the church that founded this nursery home and was and still is attached to the facility. During my youth I spent many of days going to visit these people and have great memories of taking residents to and from church every Sunday. This place is my HOME church! Where I learned about God's love for me!

Anyhow, the families met in the dining hall and we passed out cookies, visited, played Bible Bingo, and sang Christmas carols. It was alot of fun! But much to my suprise, I met up with residents that I once new as elders or members of my HOME church from my childhood. It was soo good to see these sweet people that were once so dear to me and a part of my life, but it was also a bit sad. The loneliness is a reality to some of these folks. Life is SHORT! Very short! The night was much more a blessing to me than to them, I am sure of it!

After that we met at the church and went Christmas caroling. It was 20 something degrees, and to be honest with you, I was NOT looking forward to it. But, it was amazing to be with a group of believers, in the freezing cold, with my children, singing songs to complete strangers. As we stood on the outside of the dark houses, I couldn't help but wonder "What is happening right now in there?" "Were they suffereing" "Were they happy?" "Where they scared?" Every house and every family had it's own story! That I am sure of! But what I loved so very much for that moment was the story of my own house! I have so much to be thankful for!

We may not have much when you look at us on the outside. Small house, 3 children, 2 dogs, 2 cats, two old vehicles, nothing that special. BUT IT IS SPECIAL! My house is full of love, laughter, peace, and joy. We have warm beds and warm clothes. We have food in the pantry and the frig. We have clean water. And we have each other. And most importantly God is with us in our house!

Tonight, amazingly enough, my house is clean. It won't be tomorrow! Not with 3 kids, 2 dogs, and family arriving. But that is okay. I look around it right now and I am so thankful! God is soo good! So very good! There is no place like home.........

Saturday, December 20, 2008

What a Great Day!

Every now and then we just have a really good day. And today, I can say I had one. No, it wasn't expected or planned. It just happened. And to be honest, it wasn't even an exciting day of events or activities.....

First, I finally got a day to sleep in till 9:08am. YES! I usually wake a 6:20am every morning Saturdays are special to this momma! And no one even tried to wake me up for food, questions, or help. AHHH! So nice!

Then we sat for a couple of hours watching TV and waiting on our HDTV technical guy to get here. Once this man got here, we took the WHOLE family outside for an hour of work in the backyard (it ended up being 2hours). We picked up ALL the trash, which I am soo sad to admit we filled 3 cans up. We added new fencing to our old fence so our new dog, Ranger, can not get out. We also cleaned the porch and put all the things back in their proper places. good it feels to have a clean back yard! And Ranger LOVES not being supervised or on a leash to go outside now!

Next, my super husband made us hot links and hot dogs on the grill. We were all starved by this time, so hot dogs and chips were perfect. Then we spent the next two hours relaxing and letting the kids play freely.

We also had a few little visitors, Tucker and Savannah, who came over for 2 hours. The kids played while I made cookies and supper. I made over 150 cookies to take to the residents of Hilltop Haven nursing home tomorrow night. Yes, the kids did sneak a few for dessert. But what I really enjoyed during this time was the smell of the cookies cooking, the kids laughter while playing with the dogs or making crafts at the kitchen table, the sound of the last load of laundry drying, and the Christmas music in the background. This is when it dawned on me that I was having a great and perfect PreChristmas day. So much was accomplished today without any frustration or ordeals! This is so rare in a house of 5 people. My house is some what clean, laundry is done, cookies are made, the fence is fixed, the TV is hooked up right, and things are starting to get organized again. I even got a few packages wrapped. It seems everyone in my family helped out today which made a huge difference and was actually fun! I am convinced we need more days like this!

Now, too bad the Dalls Cowboys didn't have a good day like we did:-(

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gabe's Christmas Program

Tonight we had the opportunity to see our youngest, Gabe, perform in his first big Christmas program. I was very impressed with my little man, as he wasn't shy at all. I say this because just a couple of months ago his class did a chapel presentation and Gabe froze. He knew what to do but went into stage fright once he saw all those people in the audience. So he just stood straight and never looked at anyone or said anything. Then at Thanksgiving, he did well. I could tell he was getting a little more comfortable with being on stage. But he still looked a bit nervous and talked somewhat low. Tonight he was actually on the front row and knew exactly what to do and when to do it. He was so confident and his smile was not forced at all.

Now, grant it, these are preschool children sitting in this area in these seats, so they did not have MAJOR parts. But they did sing, stand, and have musical motions with the songs. It was very cute. Gabe was so sweet by smiling at us and then talked about it all night afterwards! He was proud of himself. I think he felt like a BIG kid. I am proud for him too:)

Gabe is the one on the front row, right above that green plant at the bottom of the screen.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Wish List

We started this little tradition a year or two ago....and I want to share it this year. We ask the children what they want for Christmas and video it!

What is interesting about their request............
1) Addison's (8yrs) list keeps changing. Everyday she changes her mind on what she wants. Kind of comical too.
2) Zander (7yrs) makes it simple..... Just the Wii. It only cost $300. Hope he isn't disappointed. We have prepared him for other gifts.
3)Gabe (4yrs) requested from Santa in person to get a new doggie for Zeke. You will need to read the blog about Ranger to understand more about this request. Funny thing is, he is good with the doggie and nothing else. But his birthday is 2 weeks after Christmas....check it out!

Monday, December 15, 2008

When a Child is Sick....

What is it about a sick child? They are quite sweet and so lovable then! I know they are when they are well, too. It is just nice how appreciative and and QUIET they are when they are under the weather! HA!

And obviously I am not talking about something serious....just the typical bug or cold.

Around town and school right now we have had all kinds of bugs and sickness going around. Luckily, we haven't gotten the bad stuff yet. But we do get our typical snotty noses, allergies, and croupy coughs.

In the last week or so we have been experiencing all the above.......especially with my youngest, Gabe. So much so, that I kept him home from school last Monday. Which leads me to a few funny things that I have picked on about his "sickness".

First, on Wednesday morning, he was tired and said he was too sick to go school that he had germs on his "hands". HA! I knew better:)

Then on Friday, my daughter had a birthday party. When I went to pick her up she had a bag full of left over candy from building gingerbread houses. So when she got in the car, she was a very kind older sister and gave her littlest brother, Gabe, the bag of candy. Gabe LOVES candy and he was thrilled to have the bag. I told him he could have two candies and save the rest. Well, the night got busy and without acknowledging, Gabe would ask me if he could have more candy....I wasn't really listening but went ahead and agreed to more candy.....and did probably several times! ( WHOOPS) Finally, I noticed that his bag was getting empty and his mouth was full. Immediately I told him "Gabe, honey, you can't have any more candy! You're going to make yourself sick". Without skipping a beat, he responds quite well with "But mom, I already sick!" HA! HA! Good try though.

And last.......yesterday morning (church morning). He used his "I sick.....I gotta go to Grammy's". He knew that my husband and mother in law would give into that real quick! And they did:) But the cutest thing about that is when I went to give Gabe his breathing treatment last night, he immediately responded, very sure of himself with........"Oh, Mommy, I don't need that! I not sick anymore! Grammy made me all better! Real better!"

Now Gabe is CURED:) Got to love a 4year old's convincing mind!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas Memories

I love Christmas! Always have and always will. I have been blessed beyond measure when I reflect on my memories of the 33 Christmas's I have experienced. Just a few that come to mind are....
1. Every Christmas Eve at my Grandparent's House: I have several fond memories of a lot of laughter, food, and fun. I loved sitting next to Granddaddy Lewis as he opened his gifts in his chair with his pocket knife! I loved running around the house in feeted pajamas that usually matched my cousins, and I loved watching my older cousins LITERALLY race to open presents (dangerous at times, but very entertaining). And as much as we complained about how "retarded" it was, we all sat in the living room year after year to sing our video cameras! LOL! Lame, but still an ongoing traditon that will never be given up! Sorry kids:)
2. Every Christmas Morning at my House as Child: My brother and I usually slept together on Christmas Eve night.......trying to stay awake to see Santa. We never ever saw Santa, either. But every morning, our parents would video record the whole event. They would record our every move, from coming down the hall, to opening presents and stockings, to eating breakfast and recieving phone calls from loved ones. It was a day of NOTHING but FAMILY! Oh how I loved it....even the huge mess we made! LOVED IT! Mom would make a late BIG breakfast and we would spend the day playing with the new toys....while mom and dad usually rested! Now I know why! HA
3. Candy Canes: Not only do I love candy canes, but they do make me remember my Grandmother Neill. I can still hear her laugh and giggle as the grandkids pulled the candy canes off her tree to separate and share. And her food was always HUM!!! I know where my mom learned to cook....YUMMY!
4. Christmas Lights: What is it about lights that make you so happy? All kids love them and it wasn't any different then...or now?? When I was old enough to drive, my girlfriends and I would take one Wednesday night after church to go tour EL DORADO Estates in McKinney. We would spend a couple of hours EWWing and AWWing over the lights together. Great girl time and wonderful memories!
5. Special Parties: Who doesn't like parties? Everyday and every weekend in Decemember seemed to be filled with special events. If not a party, than a program, or an outreach of some kind. As a kid, it can't get better than that! Never bored and always on the go!

My list can go on and on.......

As an adult, the excitement of Christmas still lives in me. However, the busyness usually gets in the way of the glory of it all. So much to do with such little time! However, what I do realize as I write this is........really, the presents don't matter. As I listed my memories, not once did a present actually come to mind as something I will never forget. It was the time spent with family and friends!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Welcoming Ranger

During the Thanksgiving break, Gabe was able to meet and talk with Santa for the first time in his life. He was not shy by any means. And when Santa asked for Gabe's request, Gabe responded with that he wanted another dog....for Zeke, our black lab. You see, Gabe has only known our household with two dogs: CJ and Zeke. But about 2-3months ago, our CJ of 10 years had a cyst that turned into a bleeding tumor. Needless to say, we had to say our goodbyes to our dear friend and put CJ down one late night. We all mourned the loss of our friend and family member like any other family would........but Gabe was different. Yes, he cried just like us and talked about CJ during every prayer time (and still does). But it wasn't because he missed CJ so much, but because he knew his other dog, Zeke missed CJ.
Gabe has been concerned for his good buddy, Zeke, since then. He has made Zeke cards and pictures with drawings of his two dogs. He would give Zeke extra hugs and kisses and tell him how much he loved him. He would make a nice cozy sleeping spot and curl up beside Zeke from time to time. He has just been super sweet to Zeke.
Zeke was very sad too. He cried and wimpered for days and just was really depressed. At first he didn't eat or play much. In the last month or so, Zeke has been very clingy, always underneath our feet and not leaving our sight for anything. And he won't stay out and play like he used to.
After Gabe's request we thought alot about how it was true! Zeke was needing a friend....and so did the rest of the family:)
Well, the next dilemma was how do you get a dog on little money and time it right for Christmas morning??? Well we talked to our elf and Santa and it was suggested that we start looking now because Santa only makes TOYS. Now don't get me wrong, Santa said he would find and bring one for Christmas but it was going to be extra hard with family coming in. How was he to bring presents to ALL the Turner grandkids and find a dog??? So he gave us special permission to start looking.
I have been looking online to adopt a dog. Found several but most were pending adoptions and $200. Saturday we went Petco in Sherman to pick up some things for Zeke. Lucky for us, a shelter was bringing in their dogs. We saw Ranger, who was an absolute stinkin' mess.......but we liked him and so did the boys. So a few minutes later, and $65 later, we brought Ranger home. He is a super cool dog and seems to be adjusting great! I like him alot too:) OH, he cleans up very nicely!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Our Homemade Santa

Yes, we get a bit bored here on Preston Glen. Seems that every Christmas season Zander will make his own Christmas outfit to share. Last year he was WRINKLE, our elf. This year he became Santa.
He will hate this for me later.......but right now, he will never know:)


Three years ago after arriving home from school, my children noticed a package(that I had already gone through before their arrival) at the front door. We tore open the package to find a book that was called, The Elf on the Shelf. The book gives a great story about how an elf found his way to our home and will stay there all day, every day, until Christmas, to watch your children's behaviors and actions. The elf then uses his magical powers to fly back to the North Pole to report good and bad behaviors to the boss man, SANTA! The elf hides in a new spot every night.......that is IF he had a chance to sneak away back to the North Pole that night... And trust me, sometimes the elf has nothing good to report and must wait a day or two! HA!
We named our elf WINKLE. And we must be very very careful not to touch him or he could lose his magical powers.......which means he could not report to Santa. He looks so much like a toy, but that is because he needs to not frighten others.
WINKLE has been a great friend to us since he has come into our lives. He has been known to bring in snow with him before. He has written and responded to a few letters left to Santa, and knows alot about us. We love welcoming him to our home every year. And we love showing everyone WINKLE when we get a chance.
On Tuesday of this past week........WINKLE made it back to our home. He was hiding in our antiques above our kitchen cabinets. Today he is behind a Texas Welcome sign above our front door. Where will he be tomorrow??? I am not sure. But I am certain you will hear more stories about WINKLE in the next few weeks!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

More Than Just an Award

Today I witnessed my middle child, Zander, receive the Tiger Award from his teacher, Mrs. Driskell. At our elementary school, at the end of each grading period a student from each class is awarded a Tiger Award for outstanding work, behavior, or improvement. Zander was chosen this time around. When a child receives this award the principal reads a letter from the teacher that explains WHY they were chosen.
I admit, my children do usually get these awards often. They may skip a year here or there, but I have heard alot of letters before. But something in this letter stood out above the rest.
Mrs. Driskell addressed in her letter how much of a loyal Tiger fan Zander is to the local high school teams. She also mentioned how he loves The Dallas Cowboys, The Texas Rangers, and any other team he belongs to. What Mrs. Driskell was trying to award Zander on was his loyalty and his support to others. The note did not conclude there. She noted how he was a great fan of his very own class and classmates. But what really made my heart rejoice was the part where she metioned, "He is a true fan of our Creator, which he doesn't mind talking about!" WOW! A first grade little boy who is strong enough and is couragious enough to let others know about his God! If a first grader can do that, why can't we as adults???
Our world is changing! I try very hard to protect my children from the dangers of society, but yet, I also want them to be able to adapt and make a difference in the world in which is very "worldly". I know my Zander is far from perfect and I know that Todd and I are far from the perfect parents. But to hear these words from a person on the outside of our family sure does give you the confidence that God is with us! He is with me as a parent. And he is with my children as they learn to live in this world that we know as home......for right now that is:)