• The faux fire in my fireplace
  • The lights on the tree in a dark room
  • My favorite sweatshirt bundled around me
  • The last 10 minutes in bed with the warmth of the blanket keeping you in place
  • Big socks on your feet
  • Mittens for your hands
  • Hugs
  • TV Christmas specials
  • Seat warmers in my car
  • Carolers
  • Seeing the kids open gifts and love what they got
  • Our traditional Christmas breakfast – just like dad made
  • Christmas cards in the mail (see yesterdays post)
  • Birthday cake
  • The lights in the trees in downtown Culpeper
  • J



Christmas Musings

I am trying to get myself ready to do a big project post Christmas about what Christmas this year was really like.  So I will be posting musings on different topics all month – so I can work with them later next year 🙂

Best gifts:  I have blogged before about my favorite gift surprise (a stereo my dad hid and I had to find after all of the other gifts had been opened).  The truth is that each year,  there are 1 or 2 things I would like to have, but since I was a kid, there is not usually anything I can’t buy myself.  My wishes are simpler these days.  I love giving gifts (a year a infinitely more stressful if I am worried about how to pay for Christmas) and while I do love receiving them, it is hard to surprise me anymore.  The best gifts tend to be the ones I was not aware that the other person knew I wanted and managed to find for me.  My family does lists – and trust me it is essential for us to do so.  But when someone surprises me (not necessarily with a big thing), it represents so much more.

Planning: I have had years where I was so busy at Christmas that I could barely breathe.  And I have had years like last year where I was recovering from surgery, where barely anything happened.  The truth is, like it or not, the month has to be planned.  Too many happenings going on to NOT plan.  Here are some of my favorite things each year:

  • Family Christmas party at my cousins on my mom’s side of the family.  It is the one time of the year we all gather (or at least most of us) and we jsut spend the afternoon together.  Low stress, catch up, eat and go home.
  • Christmas Eve services.  No matter where I am, it is one of my favorite things each year.  I miss singing each year in some capacity.  I miss doing O Holy Night (which I hope to do again some day).  But overall, it is just about being in a beautiful church, at night, with candles and remembering the celebration that happened in Heaven a couple thousand years ago.
  • See traveling friends.  It doesn’t happen every year, but invariably, I have a friend or two from out of town who travels in for Christmas and I get a few precious moments with them.  Last year it was Penny.  This year it is Sara.  I will take the 10 or 15 minutes I can to see them any day.
  • Christmas concert.  This has not been as consistent in the last few years, but I always love singing in a good Christmas concert.  This year I get to be a part of the one at CBC and I am excited.  It has been too long.
  • Visit to the office.  As crazy as the company supplier party schedule can be, it is one day when I know that almost all of the people I work with – including the telecommuters like me, will be together again in the office.  Its chaotic and I never feel like I get much done, but I do love seeing everyone.

Christmas Cards:  Oh the bane of my existence at Christmas.   I love getting Christmas cards.  I hang them up in the hallway and I often leave them up until late the following year.  I love the picture ones and the store bought and the homemade.  I love the greetings and the simple signatures and the well wishes.  But what I do not love, is sending them.  I put way too much pressure on myself to make them, get them perfect, and have them ready in time that by the time I get to where I am happy with them, they never get sent.  I apologize to my friends and family who are so good about sending them.  I love to get them.  I am terrible at sending them.

More musings to come as the month wears on.


My Christmas Wish List Manifesto

I have a few wishes for this Christmas and while I know myself well enough to know that calling a “manifesto” is setting myself up to fail, I will do so anyway:

  • I wish for some peaceful evenings this Christmas.  Surrounded by people I love and enjoying just being together.
  • I wish for some resolution in my life.
  • I wish to be able to make at least one other person’s Christmas better.
  • I wish for the everyday miracles to be more clear to me this year.
  • I wish for good things to happen to the people I love.
  • I wish for the willpower I lack at times to do what needs to be done.
  • I wish for love to surround me this year.


First signs of Christmas

Since Christmas kind of creeps up earlier and earlier each year, I find it amusing that I am talking about “first signs” today, December 1.  We have been seeing signs for MONTHS now.   I feel like there are a multitude of first signs I look for each year:

  • Santa arriving at the Macy’s Christmas Parade
  • Peppermint replacing Pumpkin
  • 97.1 WASH-FM Christmas music 24-7
  • The Halloween clearance becomes the Christmas Sale
  • Cute Christmas commercials on TV (and the sappy ones)
  • Lights start to go up on houses
  • Christmas Muzak in elevators and stores
  • New Christmas Music CD’s coming out

So what is it that I hope to see each year?  Its practicing Christmas music.  I have had it start as early as September and as late as, well tonight.  I have a Christmas rehearsal tonight and I am thrilled.

What is your first sign?


OLW 2017 – Shine

Each year I have picked a word for the year (OLW = One Little Word).   For 2016 I chose HAPPY and like most years I tried to find meaning in the word throughout the year.  Later this year, I will write up a end of year post about how it went.  For now, I have been looking forward to 2017 and what word I felt God was bringing to me.

I believe the word is SHINE.

  • You shine – Be the best you that you can be
  • Shine a light on things – be truthful in who you are
  • Shine out to the world – Spread the light amongst those around you
  • Rise and shine – get up and go do it
  • Its ok to be a glowstick, sometimes we need to break to shine
  • Stars can’t shine without darkness – the dark times help us be better
  • As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same (Marianne Williamson)
  • People who shine from within don’t need a spotlight

I will be pulling scripture references soon and if you follow me on Pinterest I always have a board about my OLW (you can even see past years).

If you have never done this project, I promise it is worth trying.  Let me know if you have any questions 🙂

This is Us -Kate is my twin

If you have not seen an episode of NBC’s This Is Us – I am sorry.  You are missing out on a fantastic show.  If it was not obvious to anyone who knows me, I identify with Kate – the overweight, new in a relationship, sister.  I am not 100% like her – but there are definitely parts of her that are almost painful to watch because they ring so true.

This week, we were shown one of the more painful truths about Kate and Toby’s relationship – the two have been trying to lose weight together and the odds are not in Kate’s favor.  After Kate has been particularly rigid in her diet and exercise, she steps on the scale believing she has “crushed it” and finds she has lost 1.25 lbs.  Th disappointment is real.  Then Toby steps on the scale and he has lost 8 lbs and reached his goal.  And everyone starts to congratulate him – they want to take his picture and make a big deal.  And so Kate slips out the door – happy for him but unable to celebrate with him.

She thinks he is upset with her for ditching the meeting when she calls and he doesn’t answer.  After 2 calls or so she goes to his apartment and he tells her he is not mad – he has been busy.  But he is not letting her in the door.  She finally asks if she can come in and he says ok – and the living room is littered with a pizza box and snack wrappers.  And he tells her that he is done dieting.  But he will support her when they are together and eat the way she does.  She is skeptical but relents.

We then see them out at dinner and they finish their sensible meal.  And the waiter asks if they want to see a dessert tray.  Toby emphatically says no but Kate tells him that if he wants it, go ahead and have it.  So he does – the tallest, gooiest,  drippiest dessert he can muster.  And the look on Kate’s face….

Then she is driving home and has to get gas.  She walks back to her car after going in to the store and she eats a doughnut.  And there is this look on her face – sadness, disgust, resignation.

I can not tell you how many things in this episode made me cringe, nod my head and cry in understanding.   Going to weigh in believing there was nothing more you could have done and “only” losing a pound (or less).  Seeing someone else do so much better in the same amount of time and while happy for them, being unable to celebrate with them.  The tendency to throw so much attention on one person when a goal is met that it makes those who didn’t reach a goal feel worse.  I related to Kate’s fear that Toby was mad at her when he didn’t answer her call.  And to her skepticism when he said he would eat well around her to encourage her.  I understood the need to act like it is ok that the other person eat badly in front of you and I really understand the doughnut at the end of the night.

Its hard to lose weight.  It is hard when it seems so easy for someone else.  It can be demoralizing to feel like the only things worth celebrating are the big wins.  And mostly, it is hard when you feel like the one thing you need is the one thing that someone else can’t give you -Kate let Toby have the dessert, insisted on it, not because she needed it and not because, as she claimed, she didn’t want him going home and lying about eating other things.  I believe she did it because she wanted to the type of girlfriend who didn’t make him do something he didn’t want to do.  She didn’t want him to HAVE to lie to her because she was making him do something he didn’t want to do.

And that I can relate to.  I have said over and over that my choices will affect J.  I made a decision to have weight loss surgery this coming spring.  And EVERYTHING relating to food has to change.  And it will not just change for me.  J will be affected as well.  And he says he is ready, but I know that my tendency like Kate’s will be to let him off the hook.  And in doing so jeopardize my own well being.  And honestly this is not a criticism of J – it is my own undoing, stubbornness and fear that lead me down that path.

Pray for us as we move towards this goal.  It was a tough one.  But the toughest part is still to come.

Dear Mr. President-elect

At 42 years old, I have seen some hotly contested elections.  And I have seen us move from a place of “I don’t agree with his politics” to “He is an idiot!”.  My first presidential election I could vote in was Bill Clinton vs George Bush.  After 12 years of Republicans in office, there was a shift to Democrats and it felt monumental at the time.  As the Clinton presidency went on however, you could see the discourse coming…his personal activities, became front page news.  His marriage and his mistresses more a topic of conversation than his presidency.  And eventually, he left office with the tide turning back to Republicans.

George W. Bush came into a presidency where it was ok to make the President seem “less than”.  We talked about how “stupid” he seemed and we gossiped about a long ago battle with drugs.  And we criticized him for the lack of response when Hurricane Katrina hit and caused massive destruction.  And through it all, the Presidency had lost something …we had permission to make the president a buffoon – publicly, loudly.  Don’t get me wrong – people have always done this with their leaders.  But it seemed there was no respect for the office anymore.  It wasn’t a bad policy, or a bad President – it was a bad job to have.

Barack Obama brought a new message – hope.  Hope that we could be better, that we could do better.  That the country could be better.   But we slid further and further into our hatred slide.  When Obama was running the first time, I was actually told at church that he was the Anti-Christ and that this was a sign of the end times.  I didn’t attend some cult church – this was a traditional southern baptist church.  But his message, his very being, seemed to incite a rhetoric that got more and more sinister  For years we tried to invalidate his presidency by claiming he was not US born.  We made assumptions about his religious identity and questioned his loyalties to the God we wanted him to believe in and the one we thought he believed in.

And through it all, the political landscape lead us to a place where we started to treat others the way we regarded the President.  It stopped being, “lets agree to disagree” and it became “we can’t be friends if you like XYZ”.  We used Facebook and Twitter to tear down those who believed differently than we did.  We unfriended anyone who went against our political posts and we thought the world had the right to our opinion.

And most disturbingly, we have made the words “liberal” and “conservative” into bad things.  We have made it so you have to choose a side – you can’t believe in some of the policies…you have to dive in whole hog and BE one or the other.   And once you choose, you will never be able to support the other side.

So Mr. President-elect, I was not a fan of your campaign.  I will never be a fan of someone who feels it is ok to publicly mock people.  Or someone who has used their position of power and wealth to make others feel less than.  You have a big job to do if you are going to reunite the American people.  We are not just a nation divided – we are a nation who has reveled in the divisions for so long, that we can’t see any other way.  We need someone who can soothe the hurting souls of people here in the US and give us something good to believe in.  We need someone who will not just stand strong to other nations, but who can show compassion to those here in the US that need help.

We need a leader.  We need someone who loves America so much, that he wants to do what is best for us – not just what serves the President.  You have a lot to prove.  Let’s get to work.