Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Happy Anniversary to Mom and Dad

Today, Mom and Dad celebrate 64 years of marriage. Words can't express how grateful I am that, through the rough times, they remained commited to God, their children and to each other. That's how marriages were meant to be. ♦

Monday, May 27, 2013

Let Freedom Ring

The following article appeared in The Dallas Morning News a few weeks after the terrorist attacks on 9/11. I'm sharing it this Memorial Day, as we honor those who gave their blood to keep our flag flying high.

The current surge of patriotism has flag makers working overtime and merchants clearing shelves. Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, sold 115,000 flags the day of the terrorist attacks and 200,000 the day after.

From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans, white with foam, flags are everywhere, adding red, white and blue to the otherwise autumn landscape.

To me, it is a beautiful sight.

Of course, I am one of those patriotic souls who flies the flag year-round. One was dangling on my door the morning terror invaded our shores, and another one was hanging on a wall inside my house.

I guess you could say that flag fanaticism is a way of life for me. Something about the sight of those broad stripes and bright stars makes me weepy and proud all at once. Always has; always will.

Despite what one might think, my rigid respect for the Stars and Stripes isn’t due to personal losses suffered during times of war. Instead, it is due to a lack of personal losses suffered during times of war.

You see, Old Glory represents something of great worth that I didn’t pay for. It is freedom’s signature, you might say. And the only reason I enjoy freedom’s immeasurable rewards is because someone else paid the ultimate price. Someone brave. Someone unselfish. Someone human, just like me.

Needless to say, I also cry and get goose bumps before the first measure of “The Star-Spangled Banner” is complete.

Oh, sure, the tongue-tangling words are difficult to remember and the melody is quite challenging to sing, but complicated or not, the song means something to me.

It reminds me of those wars I didn’t fight, those chaotic nights I didn’t endure and the shed blood that wasn’t mine.

Some suggest we establish a new national anthem—one that is prettier and easier to sing. But I hope we don’t. Freedom’s price wasn’t pretty or easy. The least I can do is learn a difficult song in commemoration.

No, I don’t sound like Whitney Houston belting out, “o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave,” but I belt it out just the same. My eyes never leave the flag and my hand never leaves my heart.

In fact, I have little patience for people who stand around with their hands in their pockets, chewing gum, looking bored while the national anthem is being sung.

The way I see it, if you can’t spend a few minutes honoring our flag and the brave soldiers who gave their lives defending our country, then you’re a spoiled, ungrateful brat who needs to find another country to live in.

I don’t know how long the current flag-waving gusto will last, but I hope it isn’t just a trendy, ephemeral thing. I hope it continues long after the final piece of evil-inspired rubble has been removed and the last human remains have been taken away.

But even if it doesn’t, my flag-flying habits won’t cease. Come rain or shine, peace or war, I will continue displaying the Stars and Stripes in conspicuous places, as I always have.

Not only is it my way of saying thanks to those who died that I might enjoy a life of freedom, but during these dark days of great loss and uncertainty, it is my way of saying, “God bless America…through the night with a light from above." ♦

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Three Years and Grateful

This week I celebrated three years on my job. Woo Hoo!

Three years might not sound like a long time to work at one place (and it really isn't), but in today's job market, having a job at all is reason to celebrate. Our director brought in Mediterranean food (my latest passion) and I ate way too much. Waaaaay too much.

I have friends who are struggling without work, and as someone who has been in their shoes, I am a witness that, if you put God first in your finances, he will supply your needs. Keep your head up, and keep the faith.

Thank you, God, for the job you've blessed me with. Not a day goes by that I'm not grateful.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Savoring the Moments ~ The Week in Review

Early in the week, I took dinner to my daughter after work. She wasn't feeling very well. She lives in a beautiful apartment in The Woodlands, about 15 minutes from my house. It's surrounded by trees, and is quite peaceful overall.

While there, I snapped a few shots of her little spot for Audrey, who is due the 17th of June. I think it's turned out so adorable. I love the colors she chose, and I'm a big sucker for all things birds. My mother did this piece for her baby bed. The sign was custom made from Etsy.

I painted the letters. Yay! I'm not a big DIYer, but they turned out quite lovely I thought.Friday, my favorite playmate came over for a few hours. It had been way too long. It seemed like she'd grown six inches since I saw her last. Sigh. We had such fun. I love her to pieces.
This morning, after having some electrical projects done at the house, I headed to a local farm where fresh veggies are sold every summer. I couldn't wait to load up.

If you've never had a tomato sandwich (with vine-ripened tomatoes only, of course), you've not lived. This simple, Southern gal could exist on these summertime delicacies for a very long time.

And guess who is at Nonni's house for the weekend? The granddog. She's been a very good girl. One of her favorite things to do in the backyard is explore Nonni's flower garden. I hold my breath every time she meanders over there, praying the tender plants survive.

I hope your week was perfect, and I hope the week ahead is all you hope for. ♦

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

My Father's Fervent Prayers

Growing up along the banks of the Mississippi River, the sound of Daddy praying was as common as the sound of Mother frying eggs. Like Daniel of old, Daddy prayed every day—rain or shine, sleet or snow, hail or high water.

Although nobody ever threw Daddy into a lions’ den for praying, many mornings I wanted to.

How dare he disturb me before sunrise? Didn’t he know how sleepy I was? Didn’t he care that his loud praying woke up the entire household—not to mention every rooster in Warren county!

And why did he have to mention me in his window-rattling prayers? What if I didn’t want to be saved? What if I wanted to grow up and be the biggest sinner the South had ever seen?

Why couldn’t he just leave me out of it and pray for something really important—like a bigger house where I could have my own room with soundproof walls?

James 5:16 says, “The effectual ‘fervent’ prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”

And indeed, it does. I am a witness.

Daddy’s prayers have sheltered me in times of trouble, and calmed me in times of storm. They've carried me when I couldn't walk, and strengthened me when I couldn't stand. They've encouraged me, and lifted me and anchored me at midnight in the midst of hurricane winds.

Today is my father's birthday. I visited with him and Mom over the weekend, and in the early morning hours, just before dawn, I heard Daddy downstairs alone, calling my name in prayer. In a few minutes, I heard him call my daughter’s name. And then he prayed for the child that she is about to deliver.

It was a special moment for me, one I'll carry forever, and as tears dripped from my face, I thanked God for my praying father and for the many fervent prayers he has prayed for me. ♦

Sunday, May 12, 2013

My Mother's Day Weekend ~ 2013

It had been a month or more since I visited my parents, so after work on Friday, I packed a few things and pointed the car east. A homemade supper was waiting. Fried pork chops, followed by Mother's lemon rice pudding, made me forget all about losing weight.

On Saturday, Mother wanted to try out a recently opened spot in Beaumont that specializes in burgers, and, I must say, it was a swell idea. My burger was the best burger I've ever sunk my teeth into - Goat Cheese with Bacon and Chipotle Sauce. Oh, mercy. YUM! It tasted even better than it looks in this picture I took. Mother ended her meal with a Blue Bell Chocolate Malt, which Daddy promptly shared.

Sunday, we attended church together, all dressed in purple. (Great minds think alike, you know.) It was good seeing old friends after such a long time. Although we see each other only a few times a year, I know they would be there if I needed help in the middle of the night. Money can't buy that kind of friendship and time can't take it away.

After a lunch of fried chicken, I loaded my cowgirl gear in the front seat, said my goodbyes and headed home to the one who made me a mother in 1985 and would soon be a mother herself.

She and the grand dog were waiting at my house with hugs and sniffs and gifts that warmed my soul. 

Tomorrow another work week begins. I don't know what the days will hold, but I feel richer than a king. ♦

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Perfect Day in May ~ Leslie's Baby Shower

My daughter's baby shower was this past weekend. It was a lovely day. Just lovely. However, instead of telling you about it, I'm going to let these pictures paint you several thousand words. I'll narrate as required.  I hope you enjoy peeking in. Unless indicated otherwise, these exquisite pictures were taken by Megan. You can find out more about her services at Megan Ella Photography.

First, we have the planner - Kayla Brumley.

Kayla worked like a pack mule, making everything perfect. Many thanks to her.

Fruit water in Mason jars with purple and green straws got the party started.

Being a morning shower, the food had a brunch feel.
Bagels, cream cheeses, fruit.
Cupcakes followed.

As guests arrived, they were asked to write personal wishes for Audrey.
Precious memories for later times.

The guest of honor looked radiant when she walked in.
The bump was very prevalent.
Lots of hugging going on.

A family pose was struck. I was happy Big Sister and my dear nieces were there.
(Twin sister and my mom couldn't attend.)

My friend Ann took this picture while we posed for another one. I love it.

 Next, it was gift-opening time. Yay!

The mother-to-be was a delight to watch, discovering adorable things between the tissue.

And then ...

... a gift was handed to Nonni.

It was from the mother-to-be, and it made Nonni cry. 
Once the presents were all opened and thank yous all done,
we gathered around "Audrey's mom" and said cheese.

I wish I could tell you that Nonni is calm, cool and collected, knowing her baby is having a baby within a few weeks, but that wouldn't be true. She occasionally has anxious moments and restless nights, worrying about things she can't control.

However, despite her motherly apprehensions, she prays for her daughter every day, and she knows that Audrey Emeline will have a mother who loves her and a grandmother who thinks she hung the moon. Indeed, not every child is so blessed. ♦

I'm sharing my blog on Susan's Outdoor Wednesday.
Click over and join the fun.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Transformation Thursday ~ A $20 Coffee Table Redo

The last umpteen weekends have found me with a cup of coffee in one hand and a paint brush in the other. It all started when I found this coffee table for $20 at my local Goodwill. I'd been wanting to try my hand at painting furniture (never tried it before), so the coffee table was the perfect piece to practice on. Here's how it went.

The table was definitely used, but my prep work was minimal. Cleaning and a very light sanding. Nothing more.

Once the table was clean and smooth to the touch, I applied two coats of Zinsser Cover Stain Primer, letting it dry for 24 hours between coats. 

My paint of choice was Benjamin Moore's Advance. I chose "Super White" with a satin finish. I'd never used Benjamin Moore paint, but the reviews were great.
I applied two coats of paint, sanding between each coat and allowing it to dry 24 hours between each coat. I then let it cure for seven days before applying Briwax with a soft cloth and buffing it to a shine.

  I was more than pleased with the outcome.

 I'm still unsure if I'll use it (or sell it), but I think it will make a great addition to any room.

I'm linking up with Gina's Transformation Thursday at The Shabby Creek Cottage.