Dear Santa – Our Star Wars Stockings are Up…

SW Stockings

I’m so excited about this Christmas season! I hope you are feeling the magic of the holidays, too, Dear Readers.

Our decorations are dispersed throughout the house, so that nearly every room has something “merry and bright” in it. I enjoy decorating—even if it accentuates the fact that our house is quite dusty. I guess that happens when you have three fur-babies running around….

The babes and I are easily infatuated by Christmas lights and cute, corny Christmas movies.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Oh! And Christmas carols! Berkley, is by far, the most appreciative of my singing. He’ll stop what he’s doing, and look up at me like this:

love at Christmas time

This year, Christmas is extra special, as my husband and I will be going to Christmas Eve service with my parents and my brother. There is nothing quite as beautiful as singing “Silent Night”, while the entire congregation holds flickering candles.

I have missed Advent, again—which means I have missed poignant readings from the Bible, inspiring sermons, and some of my favorite seasonal songs such as, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”. I have, however, been reading the Gospel of Luke each morning. I started this practice on December 1st.

There are 24 chapters in Luke and, as you know, Christmas Eve is the 24th day of December. I can’t take credit for this idea; a Facebook friend shared it. I loved the idea so much, that I knew that I had to do it! It’s been a great reminder of what—exactly—we’re celebrating each Christmas.

cross & manger

Reading through Luke, day by day, reminds me of  Jars of Clay’s Christmas song, “Bethlehem Town”. At one point, the song says, “and did the stars shine much brighter that night, you gave birth to the death that would bring us to life”. It’s such a thought-provoking and powerful statement. We need to remember—always—that although Christmas arrives and passes quickly, the gift that we were given in Jesus, so long ago, is always available. Every moment, of every single day.

To that end, I do hope that each of you are enjoying the holiday season. Be wary of the rush. Try to stay grounded in the moment. Spend time with friends and family. Laugh. Frost some cookies. Watch “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and sing “Frosty the Snowman” at the top of your lungs! Enjoy this season while it’s here.

Thank you, Dear Readers, for your presence here today. Thank you for all of your prayers, love and light. You have carried me through so much! You are, Dear Readers, a gift to me.

Merry Christmas!

 

With Love & Gratitude,

Laura

Greetings & Gratitude

Dear Readers,

I am writing this post on the very last day of November! How did we get here? I feel as though I might have whiplash from how fast this month has flown by. The past thirty days have been a blur—save for the beautiful moments that I was blessed with experiencing.

We spent Thanksgiving with my husband’s family. It was a relaxed (and may I say tasty?) holiday. It was raining when we arrived on Wednesday the 27th and the wind picked up at night. The wind was so harsh, in fact, that it reminded me of the ocean’s waves scouring the shoreline.

Luna and Berkley came with us. We discovered that Berkley is really great with kids—even allowing our youngest niece to lay her head on him for a prolonged length of time. The pair cuddled happily on the couch while Luna appropriated her grandmother’s recliner:

Thanksgiving Luna

Of course, all of this did not go unnoticed by their magnificent uncle, Sherlock:

Sherlock

Sherlock is a large, gorgeous boy, and he keeps an eye on everything—especially his canine relatives.

In addition to the great company and delicious food on Thanksgiving Day, I was introduced to “Diamond Dotz”. I’ve been searching for a relaxing, creative outlet—and, thanks to my mother-in-law, I now have one!

diamond art

“Diamond Dotz” is similar to paint-by-number crafts, but instead of paint, the artist uses tiny dots included in a kit. The dots stick to an adhesive fabric design with the use of specialized tools and wax. The craft requires patience and forethought, but the results are stunning!

I also enjoyed coloring with our youngest niece. I’ve never colored with gel pens before, but I think we both enjoyed creating bright (and glittery) art. Later in the afternoon, I played UNO (for the first time…I think it was the first time anyways) with that same niece and her brother. Let me tell you, they were stiff competition!

Finally, what is Thanksgiving without a football game? As Buffalo Bills fans, this year’s game was rather uplifting. It’s nice to see the underdog take home a win.

If this month—or, more accurately, the moments I remember of it—has taught me anything, it’s to live fully in the present moment. Cherish the time spent with the people you love. For instance, earlier in November, I had an opportunity to visit my mom at a craft sale where she was selling her beautiful, deco-mesh wreaths. Our time together means so much to me.

Cherishing every moment, to me, also means capturing quiet, but dazzling scenes like this one:

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Remember these experiences—as well as the look on your feline’s face as you write a blog entry—instead of cuddling with him.

Aldie on desk

Once again, Dear Readers, thank you for your presence here today. Thank you for all of the prayers, love and light that you send my way. It leaves me speechless. I hope that you each experience many wonderful moments as the holiday season enfolds!

With Love & Gratitude,

Laura

 

A Sparkling, Silver-White Lining

snowman-ornament-3-1223

I will spare you the details for now, Dear Readers, but this past week was not a good one. So as not to worry any of you, I will say that—apart from being emotional—I am okay. There’s nothing to worry about. This past week simply rerouted me on yet another detour, reshaping what I thought would be the trajectory of my life.

Again, I repeat: I am okay.

I do, however, need to write a little bit about this particular detour or, rather, the lesson that I have learned from it. After all, it has given birth to a perfect storm of emotion—of relief, of anger, of grief, of sadness. This week I needed someone to pull me out of my own mind, to look me in the eyes, and remind me that now is precisely the time to search for silver linings in otherwise dark clouds.

I will be honest; my first thought when I heard that particular sentiment—of finding good amidst the bad—was a big “f*&k you”.

Yes, I know. My response (although unsaid) was neither kind nor gracious. I also share it with you knowing that that brave and wonderful soul that triggered that response is probably reading this, probably slightly amused because I rarely swear, and probably more than a little relieved that I finally agree.

Because, Dear Readers, I do wholeheartedly agree. The cold rain of tears, the haze of anger—as necessary as those emotions are at times, it’s hard to see anything through them. Yet, in the moments of calm between shifting weather patterns, a faint glow can be found on the horizon line. Hope can be found.

As I write this, I am reminded of this year’s first snowfall.

A couple of weeks ago, we went to bed in one world—a world of worn out lawns and shriveled leaves—and awoke in another. This new world glistened with ice and snow. Children’s giddy laughter and the rushed search for hats and mittens ushered in a new day, a new season.

We didn’t receive much snow—an inch at the most—but, as I drove home from work that afternoon, I saw that it had been just enough for the students at a nearby elementary school to build miniature snowmen. The children had, despite having so little material to work with, fitted the playground with at least three of these happy, little creatures.

The children’s ingenuity was heartwarming then, and it is heartwarming now, even though that first snowfall and their creations have melted away. Why? Because the children didn’t look at the meager snowfall and think despairingly, “Oh, this isn’t enough” or, “Oh, this isn’t what I hoped for”. The children looked at the snow and thought, “let’s try”. And, then, they set to work creating something beautiful.

In this life, we do not always get what we want or what we dream of. We like to fool ourselves into thinking that there is a set route with specific milestones along the way—school, career, marriage, home, children, growing old with the ones we love—but more often than not, that’s not how life unfolds.

Maybe you drop out of school, or maybe you make it through only to find that there are no jobs in your field.

Maybe you can afford two houses, or maybe you can barely pay your rent.

Maybe you have a child before you’re ready, or maybe you find out that motherhood might not be in your particular stack of cards.

Life, ultimately, is not as ordered as we would like to think. It disregards plans and expectations. As one of my incredible infusion nurses once told me, “Life is full of detours and this is just a detour”. If there is a silver lining in any of this, it is the sparkling silver-white one found in miniature snowmen. It is the knowledge that life can be wonderful, as long as we listen to the voices of reason and are open to the beauty inherent in all that we already have.

Like children on a wintry playground, it’s not about how much snowfall you’re given—it’s about what you do with it.