Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Celebrations

Last week I had the pleasure of going with our women's group from church on a Christmas tour of a family home. They had told us that this woman (with the help of her family) puts up 12 Christmas trees in her home. (I think there were actually a couple more than that, if you counted a couple little ones in the bathrooms).

This tree (above) was on the front porch, with it's very interesting welcome sign "Flakes Welcome".

She said each tree has a "story". The one above was in the front room as we came in, and she said for lack of better name, they call it the fancy, formal tree.

This was in sort of a children's play room/school room. It has bells all over it, and she said when the bells jingle, you know the kids are in there, fiddling with the tree.

Sort of self-explanatory, this is the "Patriotic Tree" .

This was in the Master bedroom. I really liked the little wooden churches underneath it.

This was in their son's bedroom. He apparently is into dogs, as it was surrounded by various stuffed dogs.

I thought this one was also unique; it was in one of the girl's bedrooms. [I thought the most amazing thing was that all the bedrooms were so neat. We asked one of the girls (about 9 years old) if it stays that way all the time. She said, "Not quite all the time!]

I think I got pictures of all the trees, but did not feel it necessary to share all of them. She said they each have their own tub and get put away in the attic, with everything labeled. (More organization and energy than I possess!)

I am also intrigued with Nativity sets, and wanted to share this one. It was beautiful.

I had to share with you the stockings on the fireplace. Apparently they are into western wear!

It was a lovely tour and a really nice family. It seemed to me that it was a little over done, but I believe they truly enjoyed meeting all the people who come through to see their home, and getting to know new people.

Did I mention, all of us women made a stop at DeBrand's Chocolate before going home! I had a sundae that was placed in an edible chocolate shell, with chocolate, carmel and pecans on it. Now that was truly indulgence!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Friend's Christmas Open House

We recently finished a Women's Bible study at our church. A woman from Cecil, Ohio and her daughter Caci came from Ohio to join us. It was such a pleasure getting to know these ladies! Gloria has a pottery business that she's had for I think 32 years. She told us about it and said she was having an Open House this week, Wednesday through Saturday.

Thursday I decided to take a little drive and have a small adventure, so I went to Gloria's Open House. I was amazed at what she is able to do!

She specializes in making customized crocks, cookie jars, and old fashioned jugs. Many of them are featured on her web site, Emerald Forest Pottery.

The crocks above are a couple examples of her personalized work. You can give her a picture of your home, or a logo, or family name and she paints it on the crock.

But besides her customized pottery, she also has so many other items--plates, mugs, bowls, ornaments, oil lamps, etc. Another thing that is a signature trademark, so to speak, for her is that she writes a Bible verse, or if it's something small, at least a reference, on every piece of pottery she makes, including the customized ones. Often it is on the bottom of the item, but sometimes it's on the pottery itself--such as some of the bowls, that have a verse written around the inside rim.

Above are an assortment of items she had on display for her Christmas Open House.

This is an item she makes for Christmas, that she calls Snow Castles. There are Christmas lights inside that show through the windows.

She had a door in the back room that I thought was so interesting. As I was taking a picture of it she said, "I was thinking of painting over that door, but I get a lot of comments about it, so I guess I'll leave it as is".

Her work area is just in front of this door. It seems like it would be great to have the names of Christ and the words "The Lord is with you" so clearly visible while you work.

Gloria has such a sweet christian spirit, as does her daughter Caci, who was there helping her on Thursday. This was truly a fun afternoon. My only regret is that I didn't take anyone along to share it with me.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Companionship, Coffee, and Comfort

I must make a confession here; before starting to write this post, I decided to catch up on some other blogs. So now, I'm really not feeling very spiritual or Christ-centered, after reading the recent posts from my friend at Life and Godliness.

However, to try to redeem myself, I must tell you that the last couple of weeks I've been working on my annual Christmas letter/poem, and it always reminds me of the many blessings I've enjoyed, and especially how thankful I am for my family and good friends. I've also been concerned about the spiritual needs of my adopted daughter and her children. I was talking to her the other day, and I said, "I really want R.J. and Nyla to grasp the real meaning of Christmas". Nichole said, "Oh, they know! I asked R.J. the other day if he knew when Christmas was and he said, yes, it is in December on 2-5 (he said the numbers one at a time). Then I asked him if he knew what Christmas was. Immediately he said it is Jesus's birth." So Nichole said, I was glad that he thought about Jesus first, not Santa Claus or presents.

Now, back to my original theme for this post. Ever since last year, I have been wanting a Keurig coffee maker. I just felt it was probably an extravagance, and I didn't really need it. A couple weeks ago Nichole, who was working at Kohl's, said that she had been checking out Keurig coffee makers all day and bagging them up, because they were on sale. Well, of course by the time she told me they were no longer on sale. BUT, she said they would be on sale again the day after Thanksgiving.

Well, I have made it my policy for many years now, not to go shopping on Black Friday. But I told Lynn that the coffee makers were going to be on sale. So my best friend and companion for life, my hubby, said, why don't you get one and let it be my Christmas present to you. So at 8:00 am on Black Friday, I made my way to Kohl's. The crowds really weren't very bad by that time, as most people had gone shopping at midnight and were going home to bed. AND, they still had coffee makers left--and I had a coupon for an additional 15% off!!

I brought it home, and it was still in the box. So a couple days later, Lynn said, "when are you going to open your coffee maker?" I said that I thought it was for Christmas. He said, I don't want you to wait, you need to enjoy it now.

I just want to say, I am so very much enjoying my Keurig. I can sit in my comfy chair, read, and have a cup of coffee, tea or hot chocolate, all of which are ready in just one minute. It seems to please my loving companion to see me thoroughly enjoying his gift. Last night he had been working hard, and came in for a break, and I was able to make him a hot cup of tea in just one minute! What can I say--Life is good!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

More Thanksgiving Thoughts

(Rabbi Harold Kushner) "Can you see the holiness in everything you take for granted--a paved road or the washing machine? (and I, Donna would add--the microwave, the telephone or refrigerator?) If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul."

(Unknown) The beautiful thing about gratitude is that it can be acquired. It is something that can be developed, built, worked on, practiced and obtained. It is a choice we make.

Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they won't unravel. (Unknown)

I know I've used this quote from Melodie Beattie before, but it certainly is worth repeating during this Thanksgiving season:
"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity...It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.

Have a blessed day and have an attitude of gratitude.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Something To Be Thankful For

There are so many things that I am thankful for. Even on days when I think there is very little to give thanks for, I still have many blessings.

A wonderful christian heritage ( God-fearing parents)
A great husband who is loving, honest, has a great work ethic, loves the Lord
My family--son, step-daughter, mother-in-law, siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins
A Bible-believing church and pastor--my church family
Faithful friends
A warm home and plenty of food (maybe too much!)
Beauty in nature-ocean, flowers, trees, warm sunshine, even snow!
Relatively good health, especially my eyesight (I have macular degeneration)
The Word of God, good books, ability to read.
The air I breathe, daylight, night time with the moon & stars, gentle breezes

There are many more that I experience on daily basis, and often I don't recognize them as blessings at the time. One that comes to mind is safety and protection when driving or traveling.

I want to be sure to express my gratitude. I came across a quote by William ArthurWard that says, Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.

Psalm 95: 1-6 O come, let us sing unto the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving and make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms. For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In His hand are the deep places of the earth; the stength of the hills s His also. The sea is His and He made it; and His hands formed the dry land. O come, letus worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our maker.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What is Thankfulness?

I have decided that I just really want to focus for this next several days on being thankful. I know that an attitude of thankfulness is pleasing to the Lord. I have so much to be thankful for! I found some quotes that seem to express it better than I can.

The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.
(Henry Ward Beecher)

Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart, as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds.
(Theodore Roosevelt)

If I have enjoyed the hospitality of the Host of this universe, Who daily spreads a table in my sight, surely I cannot do less than acknowledge my dependence. (G. A. Johnston Ross)

Thank you, Lord, for the many blessings that I enjoy on a daily basis!

Finally--A Real Home!

Almost 3 years ago now, I started writing to a young woman, Nichole, who was in prison. Those of you who have followed my blog have seen posts about her from time to time. I got in contact with her grandma, Colleen, and we became good friends. I also was in contact with her 2 kids, R.J. and Nyla. Over those years, I not only wrote, but I started going to visit her about every 2-3 months. After I got to know her grandma she would go with me to see her. In the last several months before her release, I began to think of her as my "adopted daughter" and she started calling me her "adopted mom". (Her own mother has chosen to have no contact with her for over 5 years.)

Nichole was released in August, and had been staying at a sort of "half-way house" the last couple months. However, she now has a job, and as of November 7th she is now in her own apartment. She is so excited, and it's so good to see her finally getting established in her own place.

The picture above is of her living/dining area. When I first saw the empty apartment, I thought it wasn't going to be very big! But this room is actually nice size, and has good lighting, and holds all the furniture that she needs. The beautiful dining table was given to her by a friend of mine. The dining chairs (which go with the table beautifully!), along with some lamps were given to her by my sister. Four other small tables, including the bedside table by her bed were donated.
This just shows one corner of her living area with the lamp and table. That closet that you see has some wonderful shelving, so she's been able to set up a pantry in there.
Behind this partition you can see her kitchen; it is very small, but will be adequate for her. She has a stove and frig, and does have a microwave also.
I couldn't really get a good pic of the bedroom. On the wall at the foot of her bed is a really large closet with shelves. The door to the room is on the left hand side and then to the right of the door is a little alcove where she has a dresser.

She has custody of her 2 children, but they are not with her full time right now. She has them on her days off from work. But she will need to figure out child care, etc and sort of get on her feet. They are with their father the rest of the time, which is where they had been prior to her release. (I went to her place yesterday; the kids were there and Nyla was sleeping, but R.J. was so excited! He said "Grandma Donna, we have a new house!)

I could not be more proud of her, and excited for her. I don't think any of us (unless we've been there) can understand what a big adjustment it is to get used to living on the "outside" after having been in prison for so long. She has done extremely well. She goes to church with us when she's not working, and she spends a lot of time with her grandma.

It has been a blessing for me to see her progress, both in getting established with a job and a place to live, as well as seeing her growth spiritually. She has a bubbly, out-going personality, and has endeared herself to almost everyone she's met. I'm happy to be able to call her my "daughter".

Monday, November 14, 2011

Of Dolphins and Discovery

While at Hilton Head, we decided to take a boat tour to see dolphins. They guaranteed that we would definitely see dolphins. It was a cool morning, and we enjoyed sitting in this restaurant area while we waited for our boat "captain".

We boarded the "Gypsy" and it was almost an exclusive tour, except for one other family with 3 kids. They were a very nice family and we enjoyed visiting with them during the boat ride.

Look! There are 2 dolphins right out there! (Don't try enlarging the picture, because it was almost impossible to catch them on film.) We did see several, but they came up only briefly and right back under the water. Still it was very enjoyable.

On Friday, our last full day there, we went to see the Discovery Museum. It wasn't exactly what you would think of as a museum. We got there just in time to take the guided tour. It was actually more like a botanical garden atmosphere. The real purpose of the tour was to explain the importance of the marsh lands, and the various kinds of fish, etc that live in them.

They had this cage under the water and our guide pulled it up to show us these blue crabs. I made certain I wasn't within reach of their claws.

We also saw some beautiful trees, most of them were live oaks, and they had this beautiful spanish moss. We also learned about spanish moss, that it is neither spanish nor moss. It is also not a fungus. It is called an epiphyte plant, which is a plant that lives on another host plant or tree, but doesn't depend on the host plant for it nutrients. It is seen mostly on the live oak trees in the southern states. ( the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida).

The above picture shows some of the marsh grasses. I also happened to get a pic of this white herron. The guide was very informative and we learned a lot.

They had a lot of different and unique plants all along the pathways. However, I took the above picture to show my friend Rebecca, so that she can possibly avoid it in the future! (LoL).

These were just a couple examples of the many plants that were there. I've always said that everyne should learn at least one new thing every day; I definitely learned some new things at this very interesting museum.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Scenes from Savannah

While we were at Hilton Head, we spent a day in Savannah. We took an on/off trolley tour, so we could get on or off at any of the stops. It was even more interesting to me, because I had started reading the book Savannah, by Eugenia Price and the book talks about how the city was originally laid out in squares, and mentions all of the streets we were on in the historical district.

There is a movie called Something to Talk about with Julia Roberts. One of the scenes from the movie is at this Six Pence Pub. (We rented the movie while we were at HH, but we were not impressed! We actually didn't even finish watching the movie).

Above is the Savannah College of Art and Design. There are many buildings throughout the city that are a part of the college. I can't remember how many student are there, but it's huge! Our nephew, Micah, is there, but of course we had no idea how to find him or contact him.

At one of the stops on the trolley we had a visit from Forest Gump. He was suppose to meet someone, so he had to "run". He would have shared his chocolates, but alas, he'd eaten all of them.

The Pirate's house has been there since the late 1800's and there is now a restaurant in it. I believe the other house is the Foley house. Most of them are named for their owners and most in the historical district were built in the late 1800's.

The fountain above is in one of the "squares" (most of them now are beautiful parks). This particular location is used a lot for weddings because of the "ambiance". The house above is called the Owen Thomas House. I would have liked to tour this one and a couple others. (Also there was at least one beautiful church that is open to the public, but they were having a service there when we were at that location.)

This Scottish Pub is where we had lunch, right in the historical district. The food was delicious--it was hard to choose what to have. These 4 lovely ladies are waiting to get back on the trolley after lunch.

Our last stop was at the river front. This bridge is
very impressive. (I can't figure out why I was frowning on so many pictures!)

The trolley on the river front stopped right in front of this store. We just had to have a picture here, as we do (did) have an Aunt Fannie.

The other picture below shows the row of shops along the river. We found some wonderful shops, including a candy shop where we could watch them making salt water taffy.

This was a very interesting story. Apparently, from the time she was a young girl, this lady would welcome the ships as they came in and wave to them as they left. It is said that she did this for 30 years,and never missed welcoming or waving to any of the ships. (I'm not sure it was exactly 30 years, but it was a long time!).

Apparently it is not going to let me type under these 2 pictures, so I will take that as a sign that I am to end this Savannah Saga. It really was very interesting, and we had a great day!

(When I previewed this, I see that it once again decided on it's own order and arrangement. Maybe I should have lived in the 1800's and worn beautiful dresses, and not had to deal with all this technology!)