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Archive for December, 2012

“Goodbye For Now”

“The Ghost Train.”

I’ve heard about this for quite a while now.

Did you ever have an item on your Christmas list that you wanted more than anything else?

I remember how much I wanted a Cabbage Patch doll when I was younger. And I’ll never forget running into my parents’ room and exclaiming what I found on Christmas morning that year. For underneath our tree, was not one, but 12 Cabbage Patch dolls!

“The Ghost Train” is a Lego set that Grady wanted so badly. I almost didn’t get it for him. Originally, his daddy and I picked him up a “Lord of the Rings” Lego set. But, one week before Christmas, my little guy came up to me just before breakfast with his brows all furrowed.

“Mom,” he asked. “Did you send Santa my list?”

“I sure did,” I answered assuredly. “Don’t you worry.”

He smiled at me and sighed, “Oh good! I was afraid he’d forget my ‘Ghost Train.’ That’s the only thing I really want.”

I just nodded to him with a smile frozen on my face, while my heart began to race.

How did we miss “The Ghost Train”?!?!

Needless to say, I made a beeline to Target as soon as I got off work, just to see if they still had any “Ghost Trains” around. My stomach was in a knot the entire time I sat at my desk. I mean, sure, I had confidence that Santa would come through. But, just in case Santa’s elves didn’t quite get around to making it, I wanted to make sure he had a back-up plan. 😉

After all, I knew that no matter how many presents Grady had under the tree, the only one that would really make his heart leap was this special item.

Christmas morning came and the first thing my son did was pick up a rectangular-shaped box and give it a shake. And what he heard was music to his ears. For according to him, a multitude of rattling pieces could only mean one thing…

A Lego set.

And not just any Lego set…

His “Ghost Train.”

He was so excited as he tore away the wrapping paper! Watching his face beam as he held his beloved set made me so happy. I knew he went to bed Christmas Eve just hoping he’d finally get his “Ghost Train.” Watching that dream come true for him is something I’ll always remember.

I tell this story because it makes me think of another one.

One I haven’t been able to talk about. Well, I think I shared my thoughts with maybe two people. But, every time I start to speak on the topic, my heart gets heavy and I can’t talk anymore.

Last night, I watched a video that honored all the victims from the Newtown tragedy. I had heard their names and I knew their ages. Most of the children were age 6 and were in Kindergarten.

Just like Grady.

And as I watched this montage of faces on Christmas evening, I sobbed like I haven’t in such a long time. I couldn’t help but think of all the parents of these little children. I wondered if they too, went on a quest for a “Ghost Train,” or a baby doll or some other special item for their child, but never got the chance to watch their baby’s Christmas wish come true. Where their innocent child should have slept on Christmas Eve, instead remained an empty bed of blankets with no one to snuggle in or a favorite stuffed animal with no one to cuddle to. Maybe they picked out special candy for their child’s stocking or found wrapping paper with their son or daughter’s favorite cartoon character. But, they never got to see their sweet child’s face light up when they saw their Christmas tree surrounded with special gifts carefully selected just for them.

I can’t even imagine the pain they must feel. And my heart aches so much for these families. As a mother, the thought of losing one of my children is gut wrenching. I don’t understand what happened and I never will. I’ve prayed for each one of these families by name and hope that God’s peace, which passes all understanding will manifest itself in their lives, I pray they feel love embrace them in such a way that they can find the strength just to take a breath. And I pray that they share in and find the hope that one day they will see their own again and their soul will finally rest.

I’m sharing this video tonight. It’s hard to watch. But, I think each precious face deserves to be seen: these victims are more than names and ages…they were someone’ s joy and song.

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southern sayings

“Bless your heart.”

Awww…don’t you just get all warm and fuzzy reading that?

Well, don’t let it fool you.

Here in the South, it’s the “nice” way of telling someone they’re basically…well, stupid.

There are a couple little sayings I’ve picked up since moving to Tennessee.

One of my favorites is “fixins.'”

I’m starting to slip that word in a little more frequently at dinner…excuse me, I mean supper. The other night, when the kids asked what we were eating, I told them “Chili with all the fixins.” Grady, of course, promptly asked me what part of the chili was broken and if he’d still have to eat it.

I’m also tossing the term into comments like, “I’m fixin to go to the store.” Yes, I do use the word mostly for my own amusement, but it’s quickly becoming a habit of speech.

y'all“Ma’am” is another saying I’m trying to get used to. I guess I just feel old whenever someone calls me that. I mean, I get that it’s a term of respect and all, but still, I feel like I should break out the big, floral print dresses or something whenever I hear it. Our neighbor boys use it all the time. Whenever I ask a question they’d like repeated, they look at me and say, “Ma’am?” Ha – that’s quite a change from the “Whaaaat?!!!” that typically bounces of these walls throughout the day.

Let’s see…what else comes to mind?

Well, when I first came down here, I remember having a conversation with our contractor. As we were getting ready to lock up the house, I asked him if he’d like me to put his pop in the refrigerator or if he wanted to take it with him. Now, I know all my northern friends will help me out and say that they know what a “pop” is.

He, however, did not.

“What did you say?” he asked as he looked at me quizzingly.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” I told him. “I was asking if you wanted your pop. Let me guess, you call it ‘soda,’ right?”

“No,” he chuckled.

“Oh,” I mused. “Well then what do you call it down here?”

“Ma’am, we just call it ‘Mountain Dew.'”

Right.

Mountain Dew.

Makes perfect sense to call a product by it’s name… 😉

But, back to “bless you heart”…

I remember the first time someone said that to me.

The best part is, our pastor had just given a sermon on the back-handed slap this line delivers.

I was shopping in an antique store and somehow misplaced my keys. I checked my purse…no luck. I went through the entire shop, which was a headache since it looked like it could be a contender for an episode on “Hoarders.” But again, nothing. I went outside, got on my stomach and searched under my car.

No keys.

The cashier came out to help me:

“Oh, hon, just bless your little heart.”

I swear, she wouldn’t stop saying it.

Now, I’m the first to admit, I totally deserved the line. But, over and over? Really??

Sigh…

At one point I just wanted to sigh and say, “Listen, I know I’m new here, I talk fast and don’t have a drawl or anything, but I KNOW WHAT YOU”RE REALLY SAYING!!!” And honestly, if you could read my mind right now, you’d hear that I’m currently doing enough ‘blessing’ for both of us.”

But, shut my mouth, heavens to Betsy and goodness gracious, why…I do declare that just wouldn’t have been hospitable, now would it?

And heaven forbid I forgo any notion of southern hospitality. 😉

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100 Stamps

4:00pm is one of my favorite times of day.

Six days a week, right on schedule, I receive a visit from our mail carrier. Yes, most of the time, my mail box is filled with bills, ads or items addressed to “current resident.”

stampBut, every once in a while there’s a card in there.

And when that happens, I get so excited, I barely make it inside the house before opening it! Seriously, I’m just like the kids, except I manage to rip open the envelope without tearing apart the card.

I just love receiving cards and letters…love it! Emails, texts and instant messages are fun and definitely great ways to stay connected. However, “snail mail” is still my favorite form of correspondence. Call me old-fashioned, but getting an envelope with my name scrawled in the familiar handwriting of family and friends is so heart warming.

Have you ever had a rough day, only to have it brightened by a special note in your mailbox? Or, felt your heart skip a beat because someone was thinking about you…and took the time to tell you? All too often, it’s easy to feel like just another face in the crowd. But, when you get a card specifically meant for you…well, how can you not smile?!

There are two times a year in particular when I keep an ear out for the familiar stopping and starting of the mail truck: birthdays and Christmas. Needless to say, one of these times is now upon us. 😉

As I reflected on all this, I brainstormed about how the kids and I can give these same sentiments to other people in our life.

And so…this year I’m taking a twist on “Embracing a Spirit of Giving”!

For the past two years, we have counted down to Christmas by giving each day to a different group of people. We made hand-crafted ornaments, baked goodies, purchased items and of course, given the gift of our “time” to others.

This year though, we’re giving the gift of our words in a project I’m calling, “Embracing a Spirit of Giving 2012: 100 Stamps.”

Here’s the deal:

Every day until Christmas, the kids and I will each write a letter to someone we know. That’s 25 letters a piece, thus requiring 100 stamps.

The requirements are simple:

  1. They have to be encouraging and tell the person what they admire or respect about them.
  2. They need to tell the person why their presence is meaningful.
  3. They have to use specific examples; blanket statements or “I think you’re cool” sentences aren’t going to cut it. There has to be a “because” in there.
  4. They have to personalize and decorate the card. And yes, they get complete and total free reign with this! So if by chance you receive a card with battling Skylanders on the front, then know I said it was “okay.”

As a way to wrap-up this project, I thought it would be fun to show the kids “It’s a Wonderful Life” on Christmas Day. After writing all their letters, I think they’ll relate to the concept of how a person’s life really does matter and we should never take for granted the impact one life may have on another.

Now, one of the ideas that shaped our previous projects is giving the gift of “presence” as opposed to “presents.” So, we’ve chosen a few specific ways to honor this concept. But, more on that later…

And yes, I will have a few other “specials” to add to the project. I just wouldn’t be “Kelly” without throwing a surprise or two into the mix!

“Embracing a Spirit of Giving 2012” is officially underway!

I hope your season is blessed!

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