Friday, December 31, 2010

Top Twelve Highlights of 2010: Part 2 - the Next Six

     Here I am - on the verge of 2011 looking back at the highlights from this past year. Here they are:
7) My Dad's miraculous return and recovery from death. No joke here. (See my post I remember holding his hand in the ICU in mid-March. He was getting paler and colder. His eyes were blinking nervously as the nurses were rushing around trying to force more blood into him as quickly as they could. My sister, an ICU nurse for 17 years, was offering to help them because she could see that they were not handling his blood loss as efficiently as they shoud have been. As I held my Dad's hand, I thought, I don't want the last face for him to see before he dies to be a sad, anxious, grieving face. So I smiled at him as sweetly and bravely as I could. It was hard and it felt weird. I was trying to stay strong for my Dad. We were whisked out of the ICU rather quickly after my sister offered to help the nurses. About a 1/2 hour later we were told he was in surgery. Several hours after that he came through. He wasn't supposed to. Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable. God answers prayer! A week or so later, he brought the meat to our Easter dinner we held at my house. He was pale and weak, but he was there and he was alive!
My Dad and my father-in-law, Don, talking at our house on Easter

       My brother flew out to see my Dad immediately. He stayed with us and we talked quite a bit. This, too,was a miracle. After 7 years of an estrangement of sorts from him, he dropped back into our lives eager to see our Dad, reconnect with us, take a great interest in my girls, and come back into our family's fold again. I never could've antcipiated how wonderful that was. We didn't talk about past issues. No need to. We just talked and laughed. It was incredible. God performed miracles of many different kinds this past March. Simply amazing.
8)Tim switched schools in September rather suddenly. They couldn't offer him the extra jobs he needed at the school he had been at for over 20 years. So in a matter of days, he was at a new school. They have been able to offer him the high paying extra jobs our large family needs. Thank you, God and way to go, Tim!
9) I've lost 32.2 lbs. (I just had to get the .2 of a pound in. Digital scales are so affirming!) since September. The program I used Lord's Table - Setting Captives Free was far more than just a weight loss program. It was so beneficial that I renamed it "How to Love Jesus With Your Whole Heart Everyday and  Lose Weight, Too!" diet plan. It has been an answer to prayer and has brought much hope and peace to me as well as smaller clothes to my closet! I'd like to lose more weight in 2011. We'll see.
10)Reading Chuck Swindoll's Great Lives Series of books about bible characters. My favorite biographies were David and Moses. I also read about the lives of Job, Esther, Elijah, Paul, Jesus, and Joseph. I acquired so much insight and illumination into the character of God through reading about these people. God worked in awesome, incredible, bizarre, and unbelievable ways in their lives. I honeslty felt that those biblical biographies were more exciting than any Hollywood movie I had ever seen. I highly recommend them.

11)Emotional healing through caring prayer. A dear friend of mine prayed for me in early September this year regarding the trauma I had still struggled with from Julia's birth. Her prayer was passionate, powerful, and incredibly answered. Within a few weeks of her prayer, I began to realize that the painful hold of Julia's traumatic birth had lost a lot of its emotion. The post-traumatic stress disorder that I had been emotionally strangled by for over 2 years had dramatically lifted. I was so relieved and grateful! (There are still some painful issues that remain, but I'm confident that in time those, too, will abate.) I also found this helpful and healing website for women who've had traumatic birth experiences.  . I highly recommend it for any woman who might need to process difficult details about her birth experience(s). Very supportive, helpful, and encouraging.
12)Growth and maturity in my daughters. All of my daughters have gotten bigger, smarter, cuter,etc. this past year, but my oldest two have really changed quite a bit. I won't divulge details because they are both so private ("If you put my picture on your blog you need to pay me a dollar!" and "Oh, Mom, what you wrote about me was so embarrassing!" Huh? How did it embarrass you? "I don't know! It just did! OK...OK...).Suffice it to say, the maturity, critical thinking skills, discernment, and awareness of the larger world around them has been so encouraging and hopeful to me. Maybe I haven't screwed them up after all! (I don't really think I've "screwed" them up, but we have our days where I really wonder...!) 
      I could've written more highlights, but I realized that twelve averages out to one per month. So, I'll end here. Have a happy new year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Top Twelve Highlights of 2010: Part 1 - the First Six

  I couldn't limit it to just 10, okay?! I know the "Top Twelve Highlights of 2010" does NOT sound very hip, but have I ever tried to be hip? Uh-huh, yep, those who know me are choking, laughing and gagging at the thought. I really try to keep it real, folks. The thought briefly skated through my mind to do "The Top (How Many Ever) Lowlights of 2010," but  that list would be way too long, boring, silly, self-centered, not a good example to my children or a good Christian witness, and just plain whiny. So, even though I try to "keep it real," I also aspire to focus on those things that are "praiseworthy, pure," God-honoring, and positive. Because I wanted to put links and pictures in my list, I wanted to break my list up into two parts. I do try to keep my posts on the briefer side. You're all busy people and so am I. Here are my first six, but by no means the bottom six. There's no ranking of which items had the most significant impact, just that they all affected me in a powerfully positive,  life-affirming, and/or extremely helpful and practical way.
1) I bought an I-Pod Touch in April with creative credit card reward financing and a coupon. Even though my first IPod broke down after just a month + of usage, I did get it replaced with another new one. I love this thing! It helps me keep track of my daily activities and commitments, shopping lists for different stores, monthly and daily tracking of certain activities and events, has a version of the ESV bible on it, allows me to take quick and easy-to-store sermon notes on it, functions as an alarm clock and a timer, and lets me listen to music and podcasts. I also play Pac-Man every now and then when I'm really bored and out somewhere. It really helps me in so many ways. I would be lost without it now.

2) Having my sisters move closer to where I live. I see my younger sister,Sarah, and her husband and two kids much more often now. We have dinner together regularly, go places together, go to movies and coffee, and just hang out together. Really, really cool. And then my older sister lives close to my favorite 7-11. I regularly see her boyfriend David getting a refill with his Big Gulp while I'm getting mine! She and David also see my kids more and I'll drop off goodies every now and then and chat about all sorts of stuff with them. They are great people. I love them dearly and am glad they're so much closer.

My sister Sarah and my girls paddling around Ventura Harbor this summer

3)Re-doing our backyard. This was a big project in the early Spring. It turned out very well. I now have several vegetable garden areas and a hummingbird and butterfly habitat I really enjoy gardening. It's a lot of work, but I'm energized and fulfilled by it. We've also been able to host more large family gatherings because our backyard accommodates so many people. The view from our backyard is simply breathtaking, too, especially in the winter.


4)Starting my new blog The Domain of Delightful Domesticity in the spring. It's fun! It's validating to me to look back over my posts and see the fruits-literally- of my labors. I also know that I can tell my girls in the future that on my blog they'll find recipes, "how-to's," and recollections of all sorts of things we did as a family. It allows me to track projects I complete and feel that life is not just an endless series of dishes. laundry, toy pick up, etc.
5) I purchased two Hillsong CD's this year. These two CD's have some of the best worship songs I've ever heard on them. The encouragement and hope I've felt while listening to them is hard to communicate in words. I bought tickets to the Hillsong concert in March 2011 at the Staples Center (I'll have to bring my Lunchable!). Elena, Camille, and I are going as a late birthday present for me. So.Excited.About.That.
6)The Mother/Daughter Retreat at church went well. I signed up for this duty in September of 2009 not realizing what I had gotten myself into. It was a challenging task, I almost backed out, and learned A WHOLE LOT through this process. The amazing thing is that the retreat went fairly well, people had postive things to say about it, and I felt satisfied about it overall. I had some very helpful women take on certain tasks. I enjoyed putting together the goodie bags the most. God was faithful in helping me keep my commitment. It was a lot of work, however, and really took a toll. Yes....I learned a lot from that experience. And unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to take any pictures from it.
      Those are six of my Top Twelve Highlights from 2010. Stay tuned for the next six, hopefully before the year 2011 starts.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Mean Mannequin

     We were traipsing through Macy's today, Daisy and Julia and I, after a failed shopping trip for pants for Julia. That little tike just doesn't have enough pants and I'm having a hard time finding some that don't look exactly like her sister's (way too hard to get them in the right drawer - even when they have totally different pants!) I was near Macy's so I thought, "I'll give it a shot." No deal - literally. So, I made my way to the elevator with Daisy and Julia following close behind, or so I thought. I glance back to see Julia, about 10 feet behind me, staring intently at something I couldn't see. I could see that she was taken with this mysterious object and was reaching her hand out like she was daring herself to touch it. I pause and watched her, wondering what it was she was looking at. I see her staring with greater intensity, willing herself to reach out and touch "it."
     And then she did.
     "Agh!!!" she screamed and jumped back. By this time I walked the couple of steps to reassure her and see what it was she was staring so intently at. This is who I saw.

      A mean mannequin! (And a mannequin child with no undershirt and massive cleavage! Who dresses these child mannequins? Perverts on parole?!) "Oh, Julia, " I said gently, "did you get shocked touching that mannequin?" She nodded a fearful, "yeah." Being the sensitive mother that I am, always trying to validate my child's emotional wounds, I laughed out loud. The three of us then took a closer look. I tried to encourage Julia to go over and touch it again and see that it wasn't a real person. She wouldn't. Daisy, however, always eager to make friends, was ready to pose. 

     Julia just stood back and stared. I don't blame her.

    In fact, as we left, I should've given all the mean mannequins the evil eye. And put a Twinkie in their hands. They all look they need one - or two.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Christmas Morgue

     I'm not quite sure where I'm going with this post, so hold on to your seats. I had to remind myself that this is Christmastime, not Easter. The Easter story does have a brief morgue-like aspect to it when Jesus lay in his tomb for three days. We know how that story ends - hallelujah! The greatest and most significant miracle to ever occur in all of time happened when Jesus rose from the dead, conquered sin and death, and defeated Satan. Easter is a holiday we should celebrate everyday because EVERYDAY the implications of Christ's resurrection should impact our lives with the joy, peace, and strength we possess to please God and live profoundly satisfying and hopeful lives.
     But, back to my hopefully-not-too morbid post. So, it started like this: a restful Thanksgiving weekend prompted Tim to get all the Christmas decorations out and decorate everything, everywhere, hallelujah and amen. "Christmas is on!" Tim really fancies Christmas decorations which I think is just too cute. He got up at 4 am one post-Christmas morning to go to Stats' After Christmas Sale and came home with a fabulous, huge, colorful wreath that proudly hangs above our fireplace as of November 27th. Last year, when my Dad was doing some downsizing, we inherited his front yard nativity scene of light -up plastic figures. This marvelous set comes with Mary, Joseph, and Jesus (of course!), 8 angels, 3 wise men, a shepherd boy with two sheep, and a cow. On the bottom of each figure is a hole to put a light and sand to weight it down and keep it upright.
     There was only one wee problem. After Tim worked with great, intense Christmas cheer all afternoon long, I came home that evening to see what looked like dead bodies lying in the front yard with some twinkling lights hanging from the house. Huh? I thought. I figured they were the nativity scene characters unlit and laying down on the grass, but it looked creepy. Even Camille mentioned this same observation a couple of days later. Tim apparently got every figurine weighted down with sand, but crookedly, so most of them fell down. And then as he placed all the lights in the figures and turned the switch on POP! SNAP! The whole light feature apparently shorted out and left the Holy Family with their priceless newborn in the dark, lying down for dead.
The grisly scene in my front yard

   The one problem with this whole scenario is that Tim has been working really long hours this past month and in December he's working even longer ours. He leaves home around 6:20 am and doesn't come home till around 7 or 8 pm most nights. He will be working Saturday mornings, too. It's not unusual to find him in bed around 8:30 pm snoring loudly from sheer exhaustion. (Have I ever mentioned how grateful I am to have such a hardworking, honorable husband? He is so awesome!) Knowing this, Tim put all the decorations up right after Thanksgiving. I'm not sure when he'll get back to figuring out this light and balance situation. I can try to remedy the weight issue and try to get the Holy Family with their entourage upright. If I can't, I suppose I could drag the whole assemblage down to the basement or pray for a miracle. Maybe this will be like Easter after all; God will miraculously resurrect the Holy Family! And in my front yard of all places!
     In the meantime, I better get out there and figure out what I can do. I want a cheery, happy Christmas scene in my front yard - nothing resembling death in anyway. That wouldn't be very neighborly, would it?